Libya Complains of Israeli High Sea 'Piracy' to UN Council

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Agence France Presse

Libya Complains of Israeli High Sea 'Piracy' to UN Council

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Libyan workers are seen loading a ship with humanitarian aid heading for the besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip, in the city of Zwara, west of Tripoli, on November 24. Israeli warships on Monday prevented a Libyan cargo vessel from reaching the Gaza Strip with aid for the impoverished Palestinian territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since June 2007. (AFP image)

UNITED NATIONS  - Libya protested in vain
Wednesday before the UN Security Council over Israel's interception of
one of its cargo ships attempting to offload aid in Gaza.

Ambassador
Giadalla Ettalhi told an emergency council session that Israel was
guilty of "piracy in the high seas," and called for "effective action
that will ensure compliance of Israel with international humanitarian
law and the law of the seas".

His complaints, however, failed to
elicit a formal condemnation of Monday's actions by Israel, which
needed unanimous consensus by the council's 14 members -- Libya is one
of the 15-strong council's 10 rotating members.

Israeli warships
on Monday prevented a Libyan cargo vessel, the Al-Marwa, from reaching
the Gaza Strip with 3,000 tons of humanitarian aid for the impoverished
Palestinian territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli
blockade since June 2007.

Israel's Ambassador to the United
Nations Gabriela Shalev, invited to speak at the council meeting even
though her country is not a member, rejected Libya's accusations,
especially the piracy contention, and in turn charged Tripoli with
provocation.

She said that since Libya does not recognize the
state of Israel, the interception was justified on grounds of national
security.

"No member State of this Council, nor any other member
of the United Nations, would allow a shipment originating from a
hostile state towards a territory that serves as a launching pad for
terrorist attacks against its civilians," Shalev said.

The Libyan
aid shipment is the first effort by an Arab state to circumvent the
blockade of Gaza, which Israel has sealed off since the Islamist
movement Hamas violently seized power there in June 2007. Israel has
repeatedly come under rocket attack from Gaza since then.

An
official in Tripoli said the crew of the Al-Mawra will have no option
but to return to Libya, since the aid cannot be unloaded in Gaza.

US
Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff also rejected Libya's
arguments during the debate and deemed it "absurd to assert Israel
committed an act of piracy" since not a single shot was fired nor was
the Libyan ship boarded.

He said Libya's attempt to access a
closed sea port instead of following the usual channels for
international aid was "dangerous and irresponsible."

Several
council members used the debate to voice their concerns over the
humanitarian situation in Gaza and deplore the Israeli blockade of the
region.

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