Thursday, June 24, 2010
BEIRUT: Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi was quoted by the pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat on Wednesday as saying that he has no information regarding a Lebanese aid Gaza-bound ship dubbed Mariam.
“I do not know anything about a second aid ship,” he said. Mariam’s organizers, meanwhile, said they were still awaiting clearance from the Lebanese government.
Israel’s army chief vowed Tuesday to prevent Lebanese and Iranian aid ships from entering the Gaza Strip, saying that the coastal enclave would not become an Iranian port, media reported.
In defiance of the Israeli warnings, Lebanese civilian groups are still planning to transport aid, including medical supplies, by sea to the Israeli-blockaded Palestinian territory via Cyprus.
Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and will not permit ships to sail directly to Gaza.
One of two boats, the “Naji al-Ali,” on Monday received a green light to depart for Cyprus on the first leg of the trip to Gaza. It is currently docked in the northern port of Tripoli.
The vessel would need Cypriot authorization to depart for Gaza from its shores, but officials in Cyprus said on Tuesday that the island was keeping in place a ban on ships departing for Gaza.
Organizers in Lebanon have said they may change course before reaching the island and head straight towards the Palestinian territory.
A second ship, the “Mariam,” also plans to carry aid to Gaza in another attempt to break the four-year siege of Gaza with some 50 women activists on board, including 30 Lebanese.
The “Mariam” has not yet been given clearance to sail.
Lebanon has said it will hold Israel responsible for any attack against aid ships and sent a letter to the UN warning that it cannot stop ships from leaving its ports if they comply with its laws. – The Daily Star, with AP, AFP
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_ID=1&article_ID=116337&categ_id=2#ixzz0rqlOsAb3
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)