Libyan-chartered ship is now moored at El-Arish

The drama is over.

Just as the plan indicated, the Amalthea, a Libyan-chartered Greek cargo ship carrying food and medicine destined for Gaza went to the Egyptian port of El-Arish, on the northern coast of the Sinai peninsula, east of the Suez Canal, and not very far from the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip.

The Amalthea is one of seven ships now moored off El-Arish, and it is expected to dock imminently.

However, until the last minute, officials of the Gadhafi charity which chartered the ship insisted that their destination was Gaza.

Haaretz has reported that for the final day of its trip, “Israeli naval vessels were shadowing and monitoring the Amalthea, which had been immobile for much of the night due to engine trouble. ‘We are not surrounding; we are following’, a military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said … An Al-Jazeera correspondent aboard the ship said two of the Israeli ships were on the port side of the vessel, to prevent it from changing direction and sailing to Gaza”.

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Tracking the Libyan-chartered boat

A Libyan-chartered boat, loaded with 2,000 tons of food and medical supplies destined for Gaza, was immobile for several hours earlier Tuesday in the waters of the Mediterranean off Port Said, Egypt. It began to move again around 5 pm.

It could be headed to the Egyptian port of El-Arish, as it has apparently official listed as its destination, or to Israel’s Ashdod Port — or even to Gaza.

People associated either with the ship or with the Libyan aid group that chartered it have sounded accommodating and non-confrontational for days. Yet, as some Palestinians [in Gaza and in Jerusalem] — and others — encourage the ship to head to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s formal naval blockade, Israeli military officials have raised their tone as well.

UPDATE: The IDF spokesperson has just sent a tweet assuring that “Contrary to media reports, no ultimatum was issued to crew of Libyan boat by Israeli Navy … Rather, the Navy had emphasized that the boat could not be allowed to enter Gaza Port” A few hours earlier, the IDF sent these two tweets: “Israeli Navy has begun preparations to stop Libyan boat in case boat persists in trying to enter maritime closure area”. and “The Israeli Navy has initiated communication with the Libyan ship”. It is still not clear, but the boat appears to be turning slightly in the direction of El-Arish.

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