Gaza aid ship arrives at Egyptian port

Wednesday 14 July 2010 20.29
Israeli Navy - International criticism followed 31 May events
Israeli Navy - International criticism followed 31 May events

A Libyan ship carrying aid for Gaza has reached an Egyptian port.

The ship altered its course following a warning from Israel's navy not to head to blockaded Gaza.

An Egyptian official said the Moldovan-flagged Amalthea arrived in El Arish, on Egypt's Mediterranean coast about 45km south of the border with Gaza, in mid-evening.

It will unload its cargo there.

'Medical supplies and passengers will enter Gaza through the Rafah border (crossing), while food will enter through the Awja border,' said Captain Gamal Abdel Maqsoud, who is in charge of the port.

He said Egypt's Red Crescent would be responsible for taking the goods over both borders and had trucks waiting in El Arish.

Israel had vowed to turn away or seize the Amalthea - renamed 'Hope' by activists - rather than let it access Gaza.

Israel was also mindful of international censure simmering since their commandos killed nine Turks while boarding another Gaza-bound aid ship in Mediterranean high seas on 31 May.

Outcry at the bloodshed aboard the Mavi Marmara prompted Israel to ease overland trade with Gaza. However, it kept the sea blockade, citing a risk of arms shipments to Hamas.

Youssef Sawani, director of a charity chaired by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, which chartered the Amalthea, confirmed earlier that it had decided to divert the ship away from Gaza for safety reasons.