Gaza aid ship leaves Greece for Egypt, Greek foreign ministry saysBy Demetris Nellas, AP
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Gaza aid ship leaves Greece for Egypt
ATHENS, Greece — A ship commissioned by a Libyan charity organization has left Greece headed for the Egyptian port of al-Arish, and not for Gaza, as originally planned, according to Greek authorities.
The Moldovan-flagged cargo ship Amalthea left around 8 p.m. local (1700 GMT) Saturday from the port of Lavrio, southeast of Athens, carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies destined for Gaza, mostly donated by Greek companies and charities, organizers said.
In addition to 15 volunteers — all from Libyan except for a Nigerian and one Moroccan — the ship has a crew of 12 from Cuba, Haiti, India, and Syria.
“We confirmed the destination in talks with the Libyan ambassador and the ship’s agent,” foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras told the Associated Press earlier Saturday. He said Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas had discussed the ship’s planned trip with Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday.
Youssef Sawani, executive director of Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which has mounted the aid operation, insisted the aim remained to unload the supplies in Gaza.
“The ambassador speaks for the state of Libya, I speak for the NGO,” Sawani said. He said the ship would not seek confrontation with the Israelis.
If Israel does not allow the ship into Gaza, the group will seek “any other appropriate destination — Al-Arish or other — to deliver the goods to the people in need,” Sawani said.
The Amalthea’s trip comes over a month after Israel boarded Gaza-bound ships, killing eight Turks and a Turkish-American on one of them. The flotilla was trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
“I think the Israelis need to understand we are not provoking any kind of action, we are not in military action we are a peaceful, humanitarian organization,” said Sawani.
The Amalthea’s trip is expected to last about 80 hours, according to the organizers, which means it will arrive at al-Arish early Wednesday.
AP Television Producer Nathalie Rendevski Savaricas in Lavrio, Greece contributed to this report
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