07/14/2010, 00.00
ISRAEL
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Gaddafi’s aid ship for Gaza surrounded by Israeli Navy

The ship, the al-Alam, is idle at 120 kilometres from Gaza because of engine troubles, surrounded by eight Israeli warships. Israel has ordered the ship to dock at the Egyptian port of el-Arish, but its destination remains unclear. According to the ship’s organisers, it is Gaza; for Israel and the ship’s captain, it is Egypt.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Libyan-chartered ship carrying 2,000 tonnes of food, medical supplies, and pre-fabricated houses for Gaza has stopped 120 kilometres off Gaza with engine problems, surrounded by eight Israeli warships. There is confusion over its destination.

The organisers of the ship, named al-Alam (hope), want to break the blockade enforced by the Israeli Navy on the Gaza Strip. Yesterday, Israel ordered the ship to sail to the Egyptian port of el-Arish.

On 31 May, the Israeli Navy raided another ship that was trying to break the blockade. In the ensuing fight between Israeli military and pro-Palestinian activists (mostly Turks), nine people were killed.

Following the Israeli warning to the al-Alam, reports have been contradictory.

Yesterday, the ship’s captain and Egyptian officials said that the vessel would dock at el-Arish. Ship organisers and officials from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation said instead that it would go to Gaza. The CEO of the Gaddafi Foundation recently stated that they "had not received any decision to change the course of the ship."

The ship left Greece on 10 July with 21 people on board from various countries, including one of Muammar Gaddafi’s sons.

Members of the crew said they did not know how long it would take to repair the engine. Meanwhile, eight Israeli warships are closely watching the ship.

Via radio, the Israelis have ordered the ship to sail towards Egypt. Some sources said that Israel successfully jammed the ship’s radio communication with the outside world.

Israel has closed all entry points to the Gaza Strip in 2007, when Hamas took control of the Territory.

After the Israeli raid against the Mavi Marmara on 31 May, the call for an end to the blockade has intensified. Israel has responded by easing the embargo.

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