A Libyan-leased ship called Amalthea, reportedly carrying 2,000 tons of aid for Gaza, has set sail from Greece – but there are conflicting reports on its destination.
The ship left the Lavrio Port in southeastern Greece Saturday. According to some reports, Israeli diplomatic efforts have succeeded in causing the ship to set its route to El Arish, on the Sinai coast, instead of Gaza.
Over the weekend, Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman about the ship, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke to the foreign ministers of Greece and Moldova. The Foreign Ministry assessed that the ship, which flies a Moldovan flag, would not attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
However, Al-Jazeera's reporter on the ship said that the captain of the ship, a Cuban national, confirmed shortly before leaving that he planned to head for Gaza.
The captain's statement “would contradict a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry, which claims to have reached an agreement with Greece and Moldova to have the ship diverted to Egypt,” Al Jazeera reported. “However," it added, "the ship is the private property of a Moldovan owner, so it was not clear what impact the two European governments could have.”
Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency quoted Hamas operative Jamal Al-Khoudari and Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi as saying the ship was still headed for Gaza. The ship, renamed Al-Amal by its Arab leasers, is expected to take about three days to reach port.
Israel maintains a naval blockade of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, a terror organization that fires missiles at Israeli communities. Israel has explained that if ships are allowed to reach Gaza, they will be used for transporting arms to the terror regime. However, anti-Israeli forces use world media to portray the Israeli blockade as cruel and arbitrary and send "humanitarian aid" ships to Gaza to pressure Israel to lift the closure.
The last time this happened, Israeli elite forces rappelled onto the ship's deck, only to be brutally attacked by people who had presented themselves as "peace activists." The soldiers fired to defend their lives and killed nine people.