Israel vows to stop Libyan 'peace' ship

I'm not sure what the unbalanced Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is trying to accomplish here. The ship full of activists is registered under the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation so it is obviously a ploy of some kind beyond simply provoking a reaction from the Israelis. He has no relations with the Jewish state so he can't break them off. He's not crazy enough to start a war - I think. Perhaps he just wants a little attention from the international press.

Whatever the reason, the Israelis aren't playing:

Israel made clear on Saturday night it would not allow the Moldovan-flagged ship commissioned by a Libyan charity to dock in Gaza, amid conflicting reports about whether the ship was headed for Gaza or the Egyptian port of El-Arish.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement saying that the ship was "an unnecessary provocation," and it would have been better had it not set sail.

"It is possible to bring merchandise into Gaza, after it has been checked, through the Ashdod port," Barak said. "However, we will not allow the entrance of arms and ammunition into Gaza. We recommend to the organizers of the flotilla to accompany Israeli naval ships into Ashdod or to sail directly for El-Arish."

The Amalthea departed on Saturday evening from a port southeast of Athens, carrying 2,000 tons of cargo, including sacks of rice and sugar, and corn oil and olive paste, mostly donated by Greek companies and charities, organizers said.

In addition to 15 volunteers - all from Libya, except for a Nigerian and a Moroccan - the ship has a crew of 12 from Cuba, Haiti, India and Syria.

Greek authorities said on Saturday night that the ship was headed for Egypt. "We confirmed the destination in talks with the Libyan ambassador and the ship's agent," Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said earlier in the day.

But Al-Jazeera, which has a reporter on the vessel, reported that its Cuban captain was indeed headed for Gaza.

One Israeli official said that they "will not allow a precedent where the security envelope will be broken." That sounds pretty final. And it sounds like another confrontation is inevitable if the Cuban captain goes through with his plans to confront the IDF.

If you experience technical problems, please write to