07/15/2010, 00.00
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Israel forces Gaddafi's aid ship to Gaza to dock in Egypt

The ship docked yesterday evening in the port of El-Ashida. The humanitarian aid will be taken today to Gaza by the Egyptian Red Crescent. The news of an engine failure of the Libyan vessel is false: it was a ploy by the captain to gain time after the Israeli navy had surrounded his ship.

Tel Aviv (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Libya's Al-Alam ship, chartered by Moammar Gadhafi and led by one of his sons, docked in Egypt last night escorted by four Israeli military vessels. The aim of the expedition was to get 2 thousand tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza but the ship was unable to force the Israeli blockade and was diverted from Tel Aviv to the Egyptian port of El-Ashida.

Yesterday, 100 km from the coast of Gaza, Al-Alam was intercepted and surrounded by eight ships of the Israeli Navy, which ordered the captain by radio to proceed to Egypt and blocked the ship’s communications.

The news of the vessel’s engine failure leaked yesterday, which blocked the Al-Alam for several hours in international waters, was denied. Alex Angelopoulos, the Greek ship owner, said that the failure was a "ploy" by the captain of the ship to buy time and allow the Libyan organizers of the expedition to seek international support to force Israel allow the Al-Alam dock in Gaza.

Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egyptian Foreign Minister, said that "the authorities will entrust the humanitarian aid to the Egyptian Red Crescent, which will transport it by truck to Gaza. The port of El-Ashida is located 45 km south of Gaza and the food and medicines will be transported there later today.

Youssef Sawan, executive director of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which organized the expedition, said: "We could not risk bloodshed. We have achieved our objectives, the result is gains for the Palestinians”.

On 31 May, the Israeli navy carried out a raid against the Mavi Marmara, a ship that tried to force the blockade. In the clashes between the army and pro-Palestinian activists 9 people were killed, mostly of Turkish origin. The Israeli blockade has lasted since 2007 and only recently Tel Aviv eased restrictions on the embargo.

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