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Middle east

Israel gets ready to intercept Gaza-bound Libyan ship

Video by Annette YOUNG

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-13

Israel has given a Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship until midnight on Tuesday to change course or risk being intercepted by the Israeli navy, one of the mission's organisers on board has said. The Kadhafi Foundation is reportedly “studying” the request.

AFP- Israeli authorities have given a Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship an ultimatum of midnight on Tuesday to change course, in a radio contact with the vessel, an organiser of the mission on board said.
   
"Israeli authorities have given us until midnight tonight to change course and head to the (Egyptian) port of El-Arish, otherwise they are threatening to intercept the boat with their navy," Mashallah Zwei said.
   
Zwei, a member of the Kadhafi Foundation charity which organised the shipment, told AFP by satellite phone that the Israelis were told the request would be "studied before a response is given."
   
The latest attempt to run Israel's naval blockade on Gaza comes six weeks after a deadly Israeli naval raid in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
   
"The Israelis contacted us and threatened to send their warships to intercept the boat and escort it toward the (Israeli) port of Ashdod if we do not change course," Zwei said earlier.
   
"We explained to the Israeli authorities that our original destination was Gaza and that we are not here for a provocation," said Zwei, whose foundation is run by Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam.
   
"We also specified that we are transporting only foodstuffs and medicines and we asked them to let us discharge our cargo in Gaza," he said.
   
In Israel, a military spokesman said it has "begun preparations" to prevent the ship from reaching the Gaza Strip in defiance of a naval blockade on the Palestinian territory.
   
The 92-metre (302-foot) freighter, Amalthea, left a Greek port on Saturday and was expected to arrive off Gaza's territorial waters on Wednesday, according to the Kadhafi Foundation.
   
In Cairo, an Egyptian official said on Tuesday that Cairo has received a request for the Libyan ship to dock in El-Arish, near Egypt's border with Gaza, but did not specify the origin of the request.

Date created : 2010-07-13

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