Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship arrives in Egypt's port

July 15, 2010 10:01 am 

by Islam Yehia, Li laifang, Feng Kang

EL-ARISH, Egypt, July 15 (PNA/Xinhua) — A Libyan-commissioned aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip arrived in the Egyptian port of El- Arish late Wednesday.

Gamal Abdel Maqsoud, the port's director, told Xinhua late Wednesday night that the Libyan ship was still some 500 meters from the pier and was waiting for the permission from Libyan leader to dock at the port. A vessel from the port had been sent to tow it upon its arrival.

The ship carries some 2,000 tons of medical and food aid, including 500 tons of flour, 255 tons of wheat, 200 tons of edible oil, 45 tons of milk and 28 huge pallets containing medicine, he said.

About 20 people, including 12 crew members of different nationalities and eight Libyan activists were on board, the port official added.

Osama El-Sergany, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) branch in El-Arish, said the ERC is prepared to unload the shipment and take it by trucks to Gaza.

The shipment would be unloaded Wednesday night and the process might complete by midday Thursday, another port source told Xinhua. But the unloading still had not begun at around 11 p.m. (2000 GMT) Wednesday as it had not completely docked.

The port authorities will first check the shipment to make sure it is packed in line with standards set for aid shipments heading to Gaza. If the shipment does not match the standards, it will be repacked in El-Arish town before being transported to the besieged enclave, El-Sergany said.

Medicine and baby milk will be transported to the strip through the Rafah crossing, while food stuff will be transported through the Oujah crossing at the Egyptian-Israel borders, he added.

The Moldova-flagged ship, funded by the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation – an organization chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son, had left Tripoli last week to Greece and left Greece on Saturday.

On Tuesday, organizers of the Libyan-commissioned aid ship, said Israeli navy forces have pursued the ship and ordered it to head to the Egyptian port of El-Arish.

Egypt approved on Wednesday a request by the aid ship to dock in its El-Arish port after it failed to reach Gaza port due to the Israeli monitoring.

The ship's engine broke down Wednesday morning 130 miles (about 209 km) from El-Arish port. It resumed sailing after repairs.

On May 31, Israeli naval commandos raided an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine activists. The incident sparked worldwide outcry and new concerns about the sufferings of the Gaza people.

Israel imposed a tight blockade on Gaza three years ago after the Hamas movement violently took over the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.

On June 1, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered to open indefinitely the Rafah crossing to allow people and aid goods in and out of Gaza, to ease the humanitarian crisis of the enclave. Thousands of Palestinians and large mounts of aid goods have crossed the terminal since then. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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