Iranian Gaza Aid Ship Cancelled

Published: June 24th 2010
in News » Israel

Mavi Marmara docked at Ashdod Port
Pic: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye

Iran announced on Thursday night that the aid ship that was to have sailed from Iran to the Gaza Strip will not make the journey. An Iranian parliamentarian said that instead another boat with Iranians, including four lawmakers, will launch from Turkey, Ynet is reporting.


According to Iranian news agency, IRNA, Hussein Sheikh el-Islam, the head of an Iranian organization that supports the Palestinians, announced at a press conference that the ship did not set sail because of “the violent and inhuman attitude of the Zionist regime to humanitarian aid.” The boat’s launch was initially publicized by the Iranian Red Crescent who announced a 14-day travel itinerary.


He said that “the vessel was supposed to leave for Gaza on Thursday, but because of hurdles put up by the Zionist regime regarding the impossibility of getting some of the goods (into the Strip), it was decided to postpone the departure to Sunday, but now this too will not happen.”


He added, “Israel sent a letter to the UN announcing that the arrival of vessels from Lebanon and Iran to the Gaza area would be a sign of war and it would act against them.”


On Tuesday Israeli army chief Gabi Ashkenazi said that he would ensure that Lebanese and Iranian ships do not enter Gaza, as this would turn the enclave into a de facto Iranian port.


"We have the right to inspect and prevent the flow of arms into Gaza,” he told Ynet, speaking from a Jewish seminary in northern Israel.


Israel is also preparing for a flotilla that was to have sailed from Lebanon to Gaza. However, sources inside Lebanon said over the weekend that a departure date has not yet been decided upon, al-Hayat, a London Newspaper, reported. It found that so far, there has not been a request filed with Lebanese authorities. In order to legally set sail, a request should have been made to the Lebanese Transportation Ministry, the body that inspects ships in order to verify passenger numbers, goods being transported and that no weapons are on board.


A Lebanese source told Ynet that Lebanese law makes it illegal for a ship to dock in an Israeli port. However, it is possible the flotilla “may request to sail to a port that they are allowed to dock in and do something else at the heart of sea.”


However, Haaretz reported that Lebanese authorities have given the ship, Julia, permission to set sail for Cyprus, thereby avoiding contravening Lebanese law by not sailing directly from Lebanon to a port that is controlled by Israel. Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said in an interview with Lebanese TV on Sunday that the ship is currently sitting in the northern port of Triploi and is ready to sail once cleared by officials.


Al-Hayat stated that the flotilla organizers are considering whether to leave from a Lebanese port directly toward Gaza or to instead voyage to Egypt’s El-Arish port and send their supplies into Gaza through the Rafah crossing.


Related articles: (iran flotilla, lebanon flotilla, gaza)
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