15 Jul 2010

Gaza aid ship diverts to Egypt

6:56 am on 15 July 2010

An aid ship blocked from dropping supplies to Gaza has entered an Egyptian port, officials there say.

The Libyan charity which sent the vessel said it was intercepted by Israeli naval ships off the coast of Gaza and forced to head south.

The Libyan-chartered Amalthea left Greece on Saturday, carrying food and medical equipment, as well as 15 pro-Palestinian activists and 12 crew members.

Egyptian officials at said the vessel had entered at El Arish port, some 50km to the west of Gaza.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Egyptian authorities will unload its cargo and hand the aid to the Egyptian Red Crescent, which will deliver it to the Palestinian side,"

The BBC reports the ship's owner has said an earlier report about mechanical failure was untrue. He says the captain of the Amalthea made up a story about engine failure to try to buy time for international diplomatic support to pressure the Israelis to let the vessel through.

Six weeks ago, Israeli forces seized another Gaza aid convoy, killing nine Turks on aboard.