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L A N . . A S T A S L E M
~ I will NOT submit to islam! ~
The “aid” flotilla planned to set sail from Lebanon is supported by Syria and Hezbollah. Its organizer, Yasser Qashlaq, called for “getting rid of the remainder of the garbage of Europe” [the Jews in Israel] and sending them back to their “homelands.”
(Sounds a bit reminiscent of Obama’s Press Queen, doesn’t it?)
The Julia (whose name was changed to Nagi al-Ali)
(Al-Manar TV, June 20, 2010).
1. The international media coverage given the last flotilla to the Gaza Strip and the political pressure exerted on Israel as a result led many organizations and one country to proclaim their intention to send more ships. On the agenda is the intention to dispatch two ships which are expected to set sail from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip. The first, the Nagi al-Ali,1 is expected to carry 100 people, among them 25 European activists (some of the parliamentarians according to the organizers) and 50 correspondents. Another ship, the Maryam, is expected to set sail with 50-60 women aboard and a cargo of humanitarian assistance.
2. So far the organizers are being deliberately vague about the expected date of sailing. The date has been delayed because, among other reasons, of political pressure. However, the organizers still hope to have the ships set sail in the coming days, possibly through an intermediate destination, perhaps Cyprus.
3. In the meantime the organizers and Hezbollah have been exploiting the affair to launch a propaganda campaign against Israel, full of hatred and anti-Israeli anti-Semitic motifs. Yasser Qashlaq, the dominant figure in organizing the flotilla, declared that the ships over which the IDF takes control “will take the remainder of the European garbage” which came to Israel back to their homelands [See videos below]. Hezbollah’s propaganda network has been fully covering the events, trying to reinforce their media effect.
4. Responsible for dispatching the ships are low-ranking Lebanese activists who have no particular standing in Lebanon’s internal politics. Some of them belong to the March 8 Alliance, which supports Hezbollah and Syria. The two groups behind the operation are Journalists without Bounds and the Free Palestine Movement, two fairly minor organizations. In our assessment, purchasing the ships and organizing the flotilla were carried out with Syrian and Hezbollah involvement and support. Neither of them wants to expose its true identity.
Information about the Ships and the Status of their Sailing
5. The following is information about the two ships:
A. The Nagi al-Ali (registered in Paris as the Julia) – The ship is expected to carry 100 passengers, 25 of them European activists (according to the organizers, some of them parliamentarians) and about 50 correspondents. According to Hamas activist Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of the Popular Committee to Lift the Siege, there will be 12 senior American activists who formerly belonged to the Council for the National Interest2 (Al-Watan, June 21, 2010). Jamal al-Khudari was also involved in preparations for the first flotilla.
B. The Maryam – A cargo ship, it is expected to carry between 50 to 60 women from Lebanon, Japan, China, the United States, and European and Arab countries, including a number of nuns. Its cargo will contain humanitarian assistance, especially medicine. Women on board are intended to create an additional difficulty for an Israeli attempt to stop the ship.
List of passengers on board the Maryam released to the media
(Al-Manar TV, June 20, 2010).
The Flotilla’s Organizers
7. Behind the organization of the Nagi al-Ali are two fairly minor organizations headed by Yasser Qashlaq, a Syrian businessman:
A. Journalists without Bounds
B. The Free Palestine Movement
8. Samar al-Hajj, a Christian from Lebanon is represented as the organizer of the Maryam. According to Rima Farah, spokeswoman for the ship, the idea of a ship of women came from a group of Lebanese women who, after the last flotilla, wanted to “show that they are not afraid of Israeli threats” (Al-Markazia, June 20, 2010).
9. In our assessment, both purchasing the ships and organizing the flotilla were carried out with the involvement and support of Syria and Hezbollah. Neither of them wants to expose its true identity (lest they involve themselves in complications with Israel). They hide behind fictitious front organizations and activists who do not have meaningful influence in the internal Lebanese arena (a modus operandi frequently used in Lebanon in the past, inventing fictitious terrorist organizations to hide the genuine identities of the organizations).
Chief Activists behind the Flotilla and Their Statements
10. Many of the activists involved in organizing the flotilla, especially senior members of Journalists without Bounds (Thaer Ghandour, Rafiq Nasrallah, Ziyad Itani), are lower rank activists with little political influence in internal Lebanese affairs. Some of them belong to the pro-Syrian pro-Hezbollah March 8 Alliance, some of them even ran for office in the 2009 elections.
11. Some of the activists mentioned by the media as involved in organizing the ships were the following:
A. Yasser Jabber Qashlaq, chairman of the Free Palestine Movement:
1) A businessman who was born in Damascus and whose family originally came from Safed in the northern part of Israel. He calls himself chairman of the Free Palestine Movement in Lebanon and founded a forum of Palestinian businessmen. He writes for a number of Arab newspapers and magazines, especially about politics and economics. He was involved in organizing previous protest sea voyages to the Gaza Strip. During 2009 the Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir reported his involvement in funding a ship (apparently in the “spirit of humanitarianism”) which would make it possible to “break the siege” of the Gaza Strip. Interviewed by Hezbollah’s Radio Nur, he said that dispatching the ships “is a very important step, because it made the Zionist enemy afraid, and constant worry is an achievement in itself” (Radio Nur, June 9, 2010).
2) Interview with Yasser Qashlaq on Al-Manar TV: “A day will come when the ships will carry the remainder of the European garbage which came to my homeland [i.e., Israel] and return them to their homelands. Gilad Shalit will go back to Paris and those murderers [the leaders of Israel] will go back to Poland. And after they go back we will chase after them to the end of the world in order to bring them to justice for those massacres from Dir Yassin till today.”
Yasser Jabber Qashlaq (Al-Manar TV, June 19, 2010).
Samer Haydar (Al-Manar TV, June 20 2010).
12. Journalists without Bounds activists:
A. Thaer Ghandour – Lebanese, serves as chairman of the organization, writes for the daily Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Akhbar. He is affiliated with the March 8 Alliance and as an independent candidate ran for the Lebanese Parliament representing the Alliance in the 2009 elections.
B. Rafiq Nasrallah – Lebanese Shi’ite, director of the International Center for Media and Research in Beirut. He is a well-known media figure in Lebanon and affiliated with the March 8 alliance. As an independent candidate he ran for the Lebanese Parliament representing the Alliance in the 2009 elections. In the past he served as director of the Abu Dhabi channel in Lebanon, director of the UAE’s Al-Ittihad office, a lecturer at the Lebanese University and a member of the board of directors of TeleLiban.
C. Ziyad Itani – A Lebanese journalist who writes for Al-Anbaa. Affiliated with the March 8 Alliance, he ran as an independent candidate for the Lebanese Parliament representing the Alliance in the 2009 elections.
13. Main activists aboard the Maryam:
A. Samar al-Hajj – Christian, wife of Ali al-Hajj, a former senior Lebanese security officer who was suspected of involvement in the murder of Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005. In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, she said, “We say to the Israeli government: We do not recognize you. Pardon me, but that’s how we were brought up. We do not recognize the Zionist entity. We are going to Gaza’s territorial waters and I don’t advise…Pay attention: I don’t advise [to stop the ship] because the Lebanese flag won’t be the only one aboard the Maryam.”
Samar al-Hajj (Al-Arabiya TV, June 19, 2010).
Iman Tawil Sa’ad (Al-Jazeera TV, June 19, 2010).
D. Wafaa ‘Awad – A member of the organizing committee (Al-Quds, June 20, 2010).
E. Mai Kharish – Said in an interview that she was married and had four children. She also said the women on board the ship are “women of the resistance” but without weapons (Al-Quds, June 20, 2010).
F. Rajaa Bishara – Denied Hezbollah had any connection to the ship (Al-Quds, June 20 2010).
14. In principle, Hezbollah supports more aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip. On June 4 Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech at a rally held following the IDF takeover of the Turkish flotilla. He said that more and more ships should be sent. He also called for greater numbers of Lebanese participants in flotillas in the future. He said that “Today the European delegation announced a call to join flotilla number two, and so far it has received hundreds of requests from Europe. Where are the Arabs? Where are the Muslims? Where are the Arab and Islamic people?... Israel, as it will be accountable to Turkey, and as it will be accountable to the red flag [i.e., Turkey], so will it be accountable to the yellow flag [i.e., Hezbollah]…Those Lebanese who participate in flotilla number two should know well that they belong to the country, the people, the resistance [i.e., Hezbollah]… We Lebanese are also part of this human, ethic, national, Arab, faithful participation. And we will not leave the issue to those who come from across the sea” (Al-Manar TV, June 4, 2010).
15. However, Hezbollah is careful not to publicly affiliate itself with the Lebanese flotilla, out of fear of complications with Israel. Another reason is the understanding that it will harm their ability to represent the flotilla as reflecting a human rights effort. In response to many articles in the media, Hezbollah issued an explicit denial of its involvement. It said in a statement that the organization kept strictly uninvolved so that Israel would not have excuses. Yasser Qashlaq, the flotilla’s organizer, claimed that there was no connection between the ships and Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran. However, before the events of the last flotilla (the takeover of the Mavi Marmara) and especially after it, Hezbollah’s propaganda network gave the events thorough coverage. There has also been extensive involvement of the Hezbollah-affiliated media in covering the current Lebanese flotilla to increase its media effect.
16. The organizers of the ships repeatedly state in interviews with the media that they have no connections with Hezbollah. For example, Rima Farah, the spokeswoman for the Maryam, said that the ship was not supported by Hezbollah (an Arab word meaning the party of Allah) but by “the party of the mother of Allah” (a nickname for the Virgin Mary) Samar al-Hajj, one of the organizers, said that there were no women from Hezbollah aboard the ship (Al-Arabiya TV, June 17, 2010).
Samar al-Hajj and her husband meet Hassan Nasrallah (Al-Safir, May 25, 2010). She claimed
the visit was held ten days before the events of the Mavi Marmara (Al-Quds, June 20 2010).
17. The Lebanese government does not want a confrontation over the issue of the ships and is attempting to pass the problem along to Cyprus (UNIFIL forces warned the government that providing authorization for the ships would be a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1710). The Lebanese government, using various excuse, rejected the ships’ request to anchor in the port of Tripoli (in the north of Lebanon). Only on June 21 did Ghazi al-Aridi, Lebanese minister of transportation, authorize the sailing of the two ships from Tripoli to Cyprus (Al-Nahar, June 21, 2010). He said that the continuation of the voyage now depended on whether or not Cyprus decided to let the ships sail (Al-Nishra, June 20 2010).
2 The Council for the National Interest is an American organization which based in Washington which advocates “Middle East policies that serve the American national interest.” It was founded in 1989 by two former Congressmen. It criticizes Israel and pro-Israeli organizations such as AIPAC. It also monitors how American taxpayers’ money is used in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.
Lebanese Gaza-Boat Organizers Reveal Anti-Semitic Motives
A boat is scheduled to depart from Lebanon sometime in the coming days, headed for Gaza in an attempt to break Israel’s blockade. ITIC says the ship is backed by Syria and Hizbullah.
The ship supposedly contains aid for Gaza, as well as activists. It will dock first at Cyprus, precluding a direct Lebanese-Israel route which would be a violation of the 2006 ceasefire between the two countries.
“Behind the launching of the ships are small-time Lebanese activists,” ITIC writes, “who are lacking significant political weight in the Lebanese political scene. Some of them are members of the March 8 camp, which supports Hizbullah and Syria. The two bodies that are supporting the launch are ‘Reporters Without Borders’ and the ‘Free Palestine Movement,’” the latter of which is headed by Kashlak. “Both are fairly small-fry movements.”
In light of this, ITIC estimates that the purchase of the boats and the organization of the flotilla is being done with the involvement and help of Syria and Hizbullah. “Both of them do not wish to divulge their true involvement, for fear of making waves with Israel, and choose instead to hide behind fictitious or light-weight activists (a commonly used method in Lebanon).”
ITIC adds: “The Lebanese government prefers to try to deflect the issue of the boats to Cyprus – especially since UNIFIL has warned it that giving permission for the boats to sail [directly to Gaza] would be a violation of UN Resolution 1710 [the ceasefire].”
‘Flotilla Women’ Invoke Hizbullah and Catholic Prayers
The Lebanese ship has been christened the “Mariam” and received the blessing of Catholic women who gathered last week at a statue of the Virgin Mary in southern Lebanon to pray for her to bless another attempt to break Israeli sovereignty over the coast of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Flotilla spokeswoman Rima Farah told the French news agency AFP, "The participants are committed to making progress and our only weapons are faith in the Virgin Mary and in humanity.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated, “If there was a mask of humanitarianism on previous flotillas, the mask has been removed completely from these boats, which are carrying representatives of Hizbullah and Iran.”
The women insist they are not affiliated with Hizbullah, but the organizer of the Miriam, Samar al-Hajj, is the wife of Lebanese general Ali Hajj, who is in a Lebanese jail for involvement with the 2005 assassination of former anti-Syrian Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. She reportedly met with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah last month.
Muslim publicists have pulled out all stops for the women’s flotilla. Al-Hajj called women the “new secret weapon” against the “thieving enemy.” She claimed that some of the women aboard will include those allegedly suffering from cancer as a result of “chemical bombs” that Israel supposedly used in the Operation Cast Lead war against Hamas terror last year.
“This has nothing to do with Hizbullah, although it is an honor for us to be supporters of the resistance,” she declared. She also thanked Israel, which has vowed to stop the ship from reaching Gaza, "for its threats which only strengthened these women's willpower to make the trip. We are not afraid."
The financial backer of the Mariam and one other ship is Syrian businessman Yasser Kashlak, who previously has stated support for Hizbullah. He told the terrorist organization’s Al-Manar television satellite network that the boats will take “Europe’s refuse [the Jews] that came to my homeland back to their homelands.”
Kashlak, like Al-Hajj,insists he has no ties with Hizbullah or Hamas, but last year, he wrote Nasrallah in a letter published in a Lebanese newspaper, "In the name of the Palestinian people… we stress that we are taking the path of resistance…. We ask Allah to extend your life and the lives of all who support Palestine and the noble 'resistance,'" the Arab code word for terror
Christian and Muslim women announce they will go to Gaza on board the ship "Mariam", Mary
"We are determined to go - says Rima Farah, spokeswoman for the group - and our weapons are our faith in the Virgin and humanity." Their announcement met with concern in Israel: Barak warns that the Lebanese government will be considered "responsible."
Beirut (AsiaNews) - In all likelihood the "Mariam", the Arabic name of Mary, has not yet left the Lebanese port where it is berthed. The ship is carrying a group of Christian and Muslim women who are intent on bringing aid, especially medicine, to the population of Gaza, and is already causing problems in Israel
Because it is one thing to attack a ship carrying more or less peaceful pacifists, another is to raid a ship voluntarily baptized with the name of Our Lady. "We are determined to go - says Rima Farah, spokeswoman for the group - and our weapons are our faith in the Virgin and humanity."
"The mission – she clarified yesterday - is of a humanitarian nature and will be conducted on board a merchant ship and not a tourist vessel." "A huge image of the Blessed Virgin will be raised on the ship and the boat will be loaded with medicines to treat cancer patients among the women and children." Religious songs, she added, will accompany them on their expedition.
The first sounding of the alarm caused by the “Mariam” was the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak’s warning to Lebanon, which he said, "will be held responsible for any departure from one of its ports of vessels bound for Gaza". And the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Danny Ayalon, added that, unlike previous attempts to break the blockade imposed on Gaza, this time the people on board could be jailed and deported.
"The Mariam - commented Farah - has already begun to achieve its purpose, as Israeli leaders have launched warnings and threats." "We are not afraid," said the organizer of the expedition, Samar El-Hajj.
The ship, according to the woman, is "now ready" in an unnamed Lebanese port and will also welcome on board about thirty European pacifists and two score of journalists.
The protesters, meanwhile, gathered in prayer in a cave near the Shrine of Our Lady of Mantara (pictured) where it is said that Mary expected Jesus
The women's group claims to have no association with Hezbollah or with other political organizations. "We are not related to the 'Party of God', but the Mother of God." The issue is also being addressed by Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, who says "the Israeli government continues to threaten Lebanon." "There are - he added - lots ships from Europe. Does the Defence Minister want to attack Europe or other countries that bring aid to Gaza? ".
Five American Roman Catholic nuns are en route to join the flotilla from their convent in Oregon, and the word on the street is that the Israeli government has asked the Vatican not to allow the nuns on board.
Funeral of Mgr. Padovese. Murderer, "I killed the great Satan!"
The bishop was stabbed in the house and beheaded outside. He cried help before he died. The murderer shouted "Allah Akbar!". The alleged insanity of the murderer is now to be excluded. There is no medical certificate to prove it. Murat Altun accuses the dead bishop of being a homosexual. Turkish minister of justice condemns the murder and promises to shed light on the incident.
Iskenderun (AsiaNews) - Today at 4pm local time the funeral will take place of Msgr. Padovese, killed by his driver, Murat Altun, strangely "crazed" last June 3. Meanwhile, new details have emerged on the dynamics and motives of the killing that has prostrated the Turkish Church.
The funeral ceremony will be held in the Church of the Annunciation, with the participation of the apostolic nuncio, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello, the Latin bishops of Istanbul and Izmir, the Armenian Catholic Bishop of Istanbul, as well as the priests in Turkey and representatives of international embassies.
There will also be a delegate of the Conference of Bishops of Europe present. The presence of bishops from other countries, particularly Italy, are not expected: After the funeral, in Iskenderun, the body of Mgr. Padovese will be brought to Milan, Italy, where he will receive other funeral. The funeral in Italy is likely to take place on Monday, June 14. The delay is due to the fact that the Italian courts have asked to do an autopsy on the body of the martyred bishop.
As the days pass, new details emerge on the story of murder and the alleged "insanity" of the assassin.
The doctors who performed the autopsy reveal that Mgr. Padovese had knife wounds all over his body, but especially in the heart (at least 8). His head was almost completely detached from his neck, attached to his body by only the skin of the back of the neck.
Even the dynamics of the killing is clearer: the Bishop was stabbed in his house. He had the strength to go out the door of the house, bleeding and crying for help and there he was killed. Perhaps only when he fell to the ground, was his head cut off.
Witnesses said they heard the bishop cry out for help. But more importantly, is that they heard screams of Murat immediately after the murder. According to these sources, he climbed on the roof of the house shouted: "I killed the great Satan! Allah Akbar! ".
This call coincides perfectly with the idea of beheading, making sense that it is like a ritual sacrifice against evil. This correlates with the murders of ultranationalist groups and Islamic fundamentalists who apparently want to eliminate Christians from Turkey.
Moreover, according to a Turkish newspaper, Milliyet on June 4, the murderer had told police that he his actions were the result of a " divine revelation."
Faced with these new chilling details perhaps the statements by the Turkish government and the first views expressed by the Vatican need to be revised. They had claimed that the killing did not have political or religious implications. Notwithstanding that, as Benedict XVI said in the plane en route to Cyprus, this murder "can not be attributed to Turkey or the Turks, and should not obscure dialogue".
Adding to the pontiff's justifiable concerns, are the increasing demands of Catholics and some Turkish NGOs that police should not stop the investigation at the presumed "insanity" of Murat, but proceed and delve deeper into his possible links with organizations of the "Deep State", even beyond the Turkish government.
The alleged insanity of the 26 year old who for more than four years lived next to the bishop is now indefensible. Ercan Eris, the church's lawyer, argues that the murderer can not become depressed in a day and that there is no medical report which declares that. Now it is certain that the young man is sane. There is no medical certificate attesting to his mental disability. Recently he said he was depressed, but now it is thought that this was all a strategy to defend himself later.
Yesterday in the Ministry of Justice came directly from Ankara to Iskenderun and explicitly condemned the act and ensured that he will do everything possible to shed light on what happened.
Establishing the truth is necessary for the Turkish State, because it shows its modernity and ability to guarantee rights, but it is also necessary for the Church. According to police sources, it seems that Murat is offering a new justification for his action: Mgr. Padovese was a homosexual, Murat, 26, was the victim, "forced to suffer abuse." The killing of the bishop was not martyrdom, but an act of "legitimate defence".
But according to experts of the Turkish world, the killing of Mgr. Padovese shows an evolution of organizations of the "Deep State" being the first time they aim so high. So far they had targeted ordinary priests, but now they have attacked the head of the Turkish Church (Mgr Padovese was president of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey). At the same time, their actions are becoming more sophisticated, less crude than before. There not only limit their defence to claims of “insanity”, already used for the murder of Father Santoro, but offer more explanation to confuse public opinion nationally and internationally.
Lebanon permits Gaza-bound ship to sail to Cyprus
Last Update: 6/21 6:10 am
Israeli navy commandos raided a blockade-busting international flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists. An international outcry over the operation pressured Israel to ease its three-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory.
"We have been granted permission to go to Cyprus and we are now in the process of making final preparations," said Yasser Kashlak, a Syrian of Palestinian origin who heads the group organizing the trip— the Free Palestine Movement. Organizers said the ship plans to sail in the next few days, but did not give an exact date for departure because of security concerns.
Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said the ship named "Julia" is now docked at the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli and can set sail once it is cleared by port authorities there. He said the ship would be allowed to sail to Cyprus and not directly to Gaza because Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and Lebanon views Gaza as Israeli controlled.
Israel imposed the blockade of Gaza after Hamas militants overran the territory three years ago. But the blockade did not achieve Israel's aims of keeping weapons out of the territory, pressuring Gazans to turn on their Hamas rulers or winning the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas-linked militants for four years.
Israel has made clear that even though it has eased its land blockade of Gaza, it maintains a naval blockade and will not allow any ships to dock there for fear they could bring weapons to Hamas.
Nearly a week after the deadly commando raid, Israeli forces seized a Gaza-bound aid vessel without meeting resistance, preventing it from busting the blockade. The Irish ship was carrying hundreds of tons of aid, including wheelchairs, medical supplies and cement.
Israel's U.N. ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, warned Friday that the attempt by the organizers to sail from Lebanon and deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza could escalate tensions and affect peace and security in the region. She cited in particular the ships' departure from Lebanon which "remains in a state of hostility with Israel." She also cited "a possible link" between the organizers and the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group.
Israel last week eased its ban on all but humanitarian goods for Gaza and said Sunday it will now allow in everything except weapons or other items deemed to have a military use.
"Julia" is one of two ships planning a blockade-busting trip from Lebanon to Gaza this month. Another ship called "Mariam," named after the virgin Mary, is also planning to make the voyage, carrying some 50 women activists including Arabs, Europeans and four American nuns as well as cancer medication to Gaza.
It was not clear whether the two ships would leave together.
The Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah has denied any involvement in organizing the flotilla. Hezbollah, which is part of the Lebanese government, fought a war with Israel in 2006.
Kashlak said the ships would be carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza and would be searched at a port in Cyprus.
"We will abide by international and marine laws and will be subject to international inspection," he told The Associated Press Monday.
There will also be journalists on the ship.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee Monday that the easing of the blockade will make things easier for civilians while tightening the blockade on weapons.
The Israeli military said it was ready to increase the transfer of food and household items to Gaza by 30 percent, so that up to 140 trucks filled with goods would be able to pass into Gaza daily. It said it plans to meet with international agencies in the next few days to discuss advancing other projects like the construction of schools, hospitals and infrastructure works.
There has been no word, however, on whether Gazans would be allowed to export goods or import raw materials for industry — restrictions that have crippled Gaza's economy.
Israeli navy commandos raided a blockade-busting international flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists. An international outcry over the raid pressured Israel to ease its 3-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory.
"We have been granted permission to go to Cyprus, and we are now in the process of making final preparations," said Yasser Kashlak, a 39-year-old Syrian of Palestinian origin who heads the group organizing the trip, the Free Palestine Movement. He said the ship plans to sail in the next few days but did not give an exact departure date because of security concerns.
The new challenge to the blockade comes just days after Israel eased its ban on all but humanitarian goods for Gaza. Israel said Sunday it will now allow in everything except weapons or other items deemed to have a military use.
Israel imposed the blockade of Gaza after Hamas militants overran Gaza in 2007. But the blockade did not achieve Israel's aims of keeping weapons out of the territory, pressuring Gazans to turn on their Hamas rulers or winning the release of an Israeli soldier held by Hamas-linked militants for four years.
Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi said the ship named Julia is now docked at the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli and can set sail once it is cleared by port authorities there. He said it would be allowed to sail to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and not directly to Gaza because Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war and Lebanon views Gaza as Israeli-controlled.
The Cypriot government last month banned any vessel setting sail to Gaza from Cypriot shores. But the activists could skirt the ban by sailing to a port in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island, outside the effective control of the internationally recognized, Greek Cypriot-dominated government in the south.
Turkey was the unofficial sponsor of the flotilla in May, and all of those killed in the clash were Turkish.
In Cyprus, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said authorities have not received any official word that a Gaza-bound ship is planning to sail from Lebanon, and the organizers did not say which port in Cyprus they planned to sail to.
Israel has made clear that even though it has eased its land blockade of Gaza, it maintains a naval blockade and will not allow any ships to dock there for fear they could bring weapons to Hamas.
About a week after the deadly flotilla raid in May, Israeli forces seized another Gaza-bound ship with aid and activists on it without meeting resistance, preventing it from breaking the blockade. No one was hurt.
Israel's U.N. ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, warned Friday that the attempt to sail from Lebanon could escalate tensions and affect peace and security in the region. She cited in particular the ship's departure from Lebanon, which "remains in a state of hostility with Israel." She also cited "a possible link" between the organizers and the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, which is part of the Lebanese government and fought a war with Israel in 2006, has denied it is involved in organizing the Lebanese ship.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Monday urged all parties to avoid actions that would hinder Israel's easing of the blockade and "give Israel the opportunity to backtrack and return to the siege."
The Free Palestine Movement, which is organizing the ship from Lebanon, also participated in the international flotilla involved in the deadly raid. Asked about the Israeli warnings, Mr. Kashlak, the organizer, said, "The dogs that bark don't bite."
Julia is one of two ships planning a blockade-busting trip from Lebanon to Gaza this month. Another ship called Mariam, named after Virgin Mary, also is planning to make the voyage, carrying some 50 female activists including Arabs, Europeans and four American nuns as well as cancer medication to Gaza. It was not clear whether the two ships would leave together.
The Israeli military said Monday it was already ready to increase the transfer of food and household items to Gaza by 30 percent so that up to 140 trucks filled with goods would be able to pass into Gaza daily. But it remained unclear when desperately needed construction materials would begin to flow across the border.
Mr. Netanyahu defended his decision to ease the blockade on Monday, saying it would boost Israel's security and help improve the country's battered image.
Blast in east Lebanon on eve of Cardinal's visit
A senior security official says a blast that ripped through a car parts shop in eastern Lebanon has killed one person and wounded two others.
The official says the explosion which occurred shortly before midnight Saturday in an industrial neighborhood of the predominantly Christian town of Zahle was most likely an attempted sabotage. (AP)
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