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Israeli navy blocks Libyan ship's Gaza mission - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Palestinian workers sit waiting at the port in Gaza City on December 1, 2008, for the arrival of a Libyan aid ship (AFP)

Palestinian workers sit waiting at the port in Gaza City on December 1, 2008, for the arrival of a Libyan aid ship (AFP)

GAZA, (Reuters) – A Libyan ship trying to deliver aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Monday turned back in the face of an Israeli naval blockade, Palestinian officials said.

The ship, Al-Marwa, sailed instead to a port in neighbouring Egypt. It left Libya last Monday, carrying 3,000 tonnes of food, medicine and other aid, Palestinian and Libyan officials said.

Imposed to generate political pressure on Islamist Hamas, the blockade has been stepped up in recent weeks amid a surge in border clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

Israel, which has in the past allowed ships carrying humanitarian goods to dock in Gaza to avoid a public confrontation, said Al-Marwa had turned back without incident. “They understood that the navy was there and decided to turn around,” said Andy David, a Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. “We have a very clear policy (on the blockade) which is constantly publicised.”

Palestinian officials said the vessel had left Gaza’s shores and its crew was unharmed.

The Anti-Siege Committee, a Palestinian group that lobbies with Hamas backing against the embargo, accused Israel of having also blocked Al-Marwa’s communications broadcasts to Gaza. The ship was now docked in Egypt’s El-Arish port, the group said.

“We urge all sides to pursue this intifada (uprising) of ships,” said Anti-Siege Committee spokesman Ala al-Batta.

Palestinian women walk along the beach near the port in Gaza City on December 1, 2008 (AFP)

Palestinian women walk along the beach near the port in Gaza City on December 1, 2008 (AFP)

Palestinians hold up pictures of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi and the Palestinian and Libyan flags as they await the arrival of a Libyan aid boat in Gaza City on December 1, 2008 (AFP)

Palestinians hold up pictures of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi and the Palestinian and Libyan flags as they await the arrival of a Libyan aid boat in Gaza City on December 1, 2008 (AFP)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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