A Libyan aid ship originally bound for the Gaza
Strip has been diverted to a port in Egypt after the Israeli navy warned
the vessel against trying to break an Israeli blockade on the
Palestinian coastal territory.
An Egyptian official said the Amalthea arrived in El Arish,
on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, about 45km south of the border with
Gaza, in mid-evening on Wednesday.
"Medical supplies and passengers will enter Gaza
through the Rafah border [crossing], while food will enter through the
Awja border," Captain Gamal Abdel Maqsoud, who is in charge of the port,
He said Egypt's Red Crescent would be responsible for taking the
2,000 tonnes of food and medicine over both borders and had trucks
waiting in El Arish.
Yousseuf Sawani, executive director of the Gaddafi
Foundation which chartered the vessel, confirmed earlier that it had
decided to divert the ship away from Gaza for safety reasons.
"It was unacceptable for us to enter into a confrontation and risk
bloodshed," Sawani said.
"The aims of Amalthea have been achieved without bloodshed
and the result is gains for the Palestinians."
He said earlier on Wednesday that eight Israeli warships had
surrounded the Libyan aid ship, preventing it from continuing its
journey to Gaza.
Amr el-Kahky, Al Jazeera's correspondent in El Arish, said the
Egyptian foreign ministry had officially accepted a request from the
ship to dock in El Arish.
"Off loading of the ship and loading [the supplies] onto trucks to
travel to Gaza is due to take place tomorrow [Thursday], el-Kahky said.
The Amalthea is carrying 12 crew members and at least nine
passengers, including six Libyans and one each from Algeria, Morocco and
Another aid mission
A separate attempt to deliver aid relief and medical supplies to Gaza
is also currently under way.
A convoy of 150 people, including "unionists, journalists and
academics", is travelling overland in 25 vehicles from Jordan to the
Egyptian Rafah crossing.
These challenges to the blockade come a day after Israel's military
admitted mistakes in the May 31 attack on a flotilla of aid vessels
trying to breach the blockade.
Nine pro-Palestinian activists, eight Turks and a dual US-Turkish
citizen, were killed after
Israeli soldiers boarded the lead ship Mavi Marmara.
Following an international outcry over the raid, Israel recently
eased restrictions on the Gaza Strip, allowing some previously banned
items into the territory.
But construction materials remain heavily restricted, Gazans have
very limited freedom of movement, and Israel still enforces a naval
blockade on the territory.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies