Israel determined to bar all ships from landing in Gaza
NEW YORK, As a humanitarian aid ship named “Mariam” is preparing to set sail from Tripoli, Lebanon, the Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev has announced that her government reserves the right to use “all necessary means” to block aid ships from reaching the Gaza Strip.
In a letter to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Gabriela Shalev stressed that the group responsible for organizing the Mariam ship is “suspected of having ties with Hezbollah.”
The Israeli official alleged that the ship’s organizers are fully aware of the official channels to send aid to the Gaza Strip, but they want to “provoke a confrontation,” she said, “and raise tensions in the area.”
“Because of the current situation of an armed conflict between the Hamas terrorist organization and the state of Israel, Israel reserves the right, in accordance with international law, to use all necessary means to prevent this ship from violating the naval blockade on Gaza,” she said.
Mariam is scheduled to leave the port of Tripoli in Lebanon on Sunday, and will set sail to Cyprus and from there on to Gaza.
For his part, Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi announced Friday there are “no guarantees” that Mariam will head to Cyprus on Sunday, because authorities there did not agree to the ship traveling to the besieged Gaza Strip.
“There are no guarantees they will travel on Sunday because Cyprus did not give approval for the ship to dock at its ports or cross regional waters off the Gaza Strip,” Aridi told the French news agency (AFP) Friday.
The Cypriot government said Friday in a statement that it will continue to stop ships heading to Gaza from its ports.
Israeli war minister Ehud Barak had warned in late July that Israel will take action against any ship launched from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile in Nazareth, Israeli military police have opened an investigation with soldiers suspected in stealing laptops and cell phones from peace activists on board the Turkish Marmara ship, which was heading for the Gaza Strip with the Freedom Flotilla convoy to break the four-year siege on Gaza.
According to Ynet, police arrested an officer and three soldiers in the Israeli army on suspicion of stealing and trading property belonging to passengers aboard the ship.
According to the investigation, a senior officer responsible for the attack on the Marmara ship stole several items from the crime scene, including six laptops and cell phones, and later bragged while selling them that they are “booty” from the Turkish fleet.
Al Jazeera Net quoted Freedom Flotilla organizer Lubna Mesawera as saying that Israel confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods from Arab and foreign pro-Palestinians onboard the Marmara ship, adding that cash was personally confiscated from herself as well as her passport, which Israel has refused to return.