LAVRIO, Greece, July 9 (Reuters) - A ship carrying aid for Palestinians will
leave for Gaza on Friday or early Saturday, just over a month after a deadly
Israeli raid on an aid flotilla trying to break the blockade of the impoverished
A charity chaired by the Libyan Leader's reformist son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
is organising the trip and said the vessel would carry some 2,000 tons of food
and medicine and complied with international rules.
Nine pro-Palestinian activists died in May when Israeli marines stormed a
Turkish aid ship heading a Gaza-bound convoy, prompting world outcry, a crisis
in Israeli-Turkish relations and a condemnation from the United Nations Security
Israel said its commandoes were attacked with knives and sticks when they
boarded the ship and acted in self-defence.
We are doing what we can, if everybody steps back and says the Israelis will
not allow it, nothing will happen and the people of Gaza will starve, said
Youssef Sawani, executive director of the Gaddafi International Charity and
Development Foundation, which is organising the aid trip.
We hope everything will go smoothly, he told reporters on Friday on board
the Amalthea vessel, re-named Hope for the trip.
Ten supporters of the charity will be on board, as well as 12 crew, Sawani
said in the south-eastern Greek port of Lavrio. The activists are Libyan apart
from one Nigerian and a Moroccan. The crew include Cubans, Haitians, Syrians and
We will try to explain to the others that we are just helping people, we
have nothing in the ship except rice, oil, tomatoes and flour, that's all we
have, we don't have weapons, said Fabdalraof Jaziri, a Libyan engineer who will
take part in the trip.
Israel has said its blockade was necessary to stop arms and materials it
fears could be used for military purposes from reaching Gaza's Hamas Islamist
In the wake of the raid and the international outrage it caused, it has
announced steps to ease the blockade of the enclave and set up an inquiry into
Sawani said he hoped to sail on Friday or early Saturday and the trip would
take 70 to 80 hours. (Reporting by Gina Kalovyrna, writing by Ingrid Melander,
editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)