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Libyan aid ship heads to Gaza via Egypt

A ship loaded with with food and medical supplies for Palestinians in Gaza has set sail for the Egyptian port of el-Arish. The "Amalthea," commissioned by a Libyan charity, will not attempt to break the Israeli blockade.

The Amalthea sets sail from the Greek port of Lavrio

The 'Amalthea' sets sail from the Greek port of Lavrio

A ship, loaded with humanitarian aid destined for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, has set sail from Greece for the Egyptian port of el-Arish. Following intense diplomatic pressure from Israel, the ship, which has been chartered by a Libyan charity, will not attempt to break through the Israeli blockade.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the Libyan aid vessel's planned journey an "unnecessary provocation."

The aid shipment will be transported overland from el-Arish to the Palestinian enclave in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Greek radio said there were 27 people on board the "Amalthea," including 13 Libyan activists, a Nigerian and a Syrian national.

The Moldavian-flagged, Greek-owned cargo ship left from Lavrio on Saturday afternoon carrying 2,000 tons of food and medical aid supplied by the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Association. The charity is headed by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader.

The vessel was originally scheduled to sail directly to the Gaza Strip, but Greek diplomatic sources in Athens confirmed it would travel instead to el-Arish following diplomatic talks between Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

At the end of May, an international Gaza flotilla tried to break through the Israeli blockade. Nine people were killed, mainly Turkish nationals, when the Israeli military intercepted and used force to seize control of the ship. Following widespread international condemnation Israel finally agreed to relax the blockade.

Author: Nigel Tandy (AFP,dpa)

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar

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