Lebanon is preparing to explain its position at the UN Security Council in response to Israeli threats to prevent ships that could sail from Lebanese ports in an attempt to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Sunday.
Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA.ir), Lebanon is preparing to explain its position at the UN Security Council in response to Israeli threats to prevent ships that could sail from Lebanese ports in an attempt to break the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip, Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Sunday.
The paper quoted an unnamed source as saying that Lebanon will reject Israeli accusations, especially after the letter sent by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev on Friday to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council members pointing to alleged links between the sponsors of a new Gaza-bound aid ship and Hezbollah.
This comes as some 50 Christian and Muslim Lebanese women as well as foreigners, who say they are not affiliated to any political party, are preparing to leave Lebanon on Sunday on board of the Lebanese aid ship Mariam. The first boat, Naji el-Ali, is set to leave Beirut with 25 European activists onboard, including parliament members and some 50 journalists, including humanitarian equipment. The ship, which will be loaded with medical supplies for cancer patients, would be the latest bid to break Israel’s four-year blockade of the territory. Julia, which has been docking at Tripoli port for about two months, is one of two ships to be used by Lebanese, Arab and foreign activists to carry aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Al-Hayat newspaper also quoted an official Lebanese source as saying that an Israeli attack on Lebanese citizens aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship in international waters will amount to an aggression on Lebanon. “Lebanon will not stand idle if Israel attacks Lebanese and foreign civilians in international waters as it did with the Turkish ship a few weeks ago, even though Lebanon is not sponsoring [the new aid ship to Gaza],” the source said, referring to the Israeli attack on an aid flotilla in May that left nine Turks dead.
The source added that Lebanese laws do not prohibit civilians from sailing from its ports. However, the source said that preparations by Lebanese, Arab and foreign activists and journalists to sail from Lebanese ports carrying aid to Gaza have not yet reached their final stage.
WOULD ISRAEL ATTACK LEBANESE BOATS?
Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai quoted a diplomatic source as saying that US Ambassador Michele Sison met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri two days ago to warn him about the actions Israel could take to prevent aid ships sailing from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip.
The report added that Hezbollah’s declaration that it had nothing to do with the aid missions from Lebanon to Gaza might not be sufficient to avert a possible sea confrontation.
The paper quoted an unnamed Western diplomatic source as saying that the Lebanese government has not yet responded to mediation attempts to prevent the Mariam aid ship from sailing from Lebanon to Gaza.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev on Friday urged Lebanon and the international community to prevent a small group of ships from trying to break the blockade of the Gaza strip, and warned that Tel Aviv has the right to utilize all necessary measures to stop the vessels, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
In a statement issued on Friday, Hezbollah said it will not take part in any Gaza-bound aid missions in order to deny Israel an excuse to attack the boats.
UNIFIL Director of Political and Civil Affairs Milos Strugar said that the UN force has not received any warning or request from Israel to prevent Lebanese ships from sailing to Gaza, As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported. “The UNIFIL’s mission is confined to helping the Lebanese government at its request to prevent the transfer of unauthorized weapons to Lebanon by sea,” the paper quoted Strugar as saying. He added that the UN naval vessels’ activities were confined to this mission.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that since Wednesday, Israel has been exerting great diplomatic efforts on the international level to prevent the Lebanese government from launching the aid ships. It revealed that Israel had demanded from the Vatican to advise nuns against boarding the Mariam aid ship, seeing as tens of nuns have planned to be on the all-female ship. It also added that Israel had informed the U.N. and the Security Council that it intends to exercise its “right” in preventing the Lebanese ships from reaching Gaza.
Haaretz said that the Israeli navy and intelligence are preparing themselves for thwarting the arrival of the ships, with military sources stressing that ships coming from Lebanon and Iran will not be allowed to go near Gaza shores.