Palestinian boats sail at Gaza sea in support of Lebanese aid ships

21:47, June 21, 2010      

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Tens of Palestinian boats sailed on Monday at Gaza sea in preparation for welcoming two Lebanese aid ships that are expected to head for the blockaded territory soon.

Jamal al-Khoudary, an independent lawmaker and head of the popular committee against the siege, told a press conference that the Lebanese government has approved the sailing of the two aid ships towards Gaza.

However, a report published by the London-based Al Hayat Newspaper quoted Lebanese officials on Sunday as saying they have not received an official request from the organizers of the Lebanese flotilla.

According to the report, Lebanese law prohibits ships from sailing to areas like Gaza which are under Israeli control.

"The activists onboard the vessels will not be intimidated by the Israeli threats to use force to bar them from reaching Gaza," said al-Khoudary.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak held the Lebanese government responsible for any "violent and dangerous confrontation," when Israeli navy tried to block the flotilla from breaching the Gaza maritime blockade.

The Lebanese ships, named Mariam and Naji al-Ali, will carry on their decks with 50 international and Arab female activists, journalists and medical supplies mainly for kidney dialysis and cancer treatment, according to al-Khoudary.

Israeli naval forces attacked last month an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine activists and injuring dozens of others.Kyrgyzstan

The attack drew worldwide criticism, while organizers pledged to continue sending ships to Gaza to challenge a three-year-long Israeli blockade.

Israel has been imposing a tight blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip since Gaza militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid in June 2006.

Israel and Egypt sealed off their borders with Gaza in June 2007 when Islamic Hamas movement took over Gaza from security forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


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