Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has threatened Beirut with action by the Israeli navy to intercept a Lebanese ship heading to the besieged Gaza Strip.
Barak claimed that the Lebanese ship Mariam is not on a humanitarian mission, describing it as a provocative move. He also alleged that the ship’s journey has been organized by a “terrorist group that aims at killing Israelis.”
“If the ship insists on arriving, in opposition to the current blockade, Israel will be forced to stop it and bring it to the port of Ashdod,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted Barak as saying.
The organizers of the Mariam said that the ship is carrying medical and other humanitarian supplies with 60 women activists onboard from Lebanon, Europe and the United States. The aid mission hopes to break Israel’s Gaza blockade.
The vessel intends to begin sailing towards Gaza on Sunday from Lebanon, despite warnings that it will not be allowed to make it past Cyprus, the organizers stressed.
Barak said he has contacted a number of countries to force Lebanon to prevent the ship from setting sail.
Meanwhile, the ambassador of Cyprus in Lebanon has also announced that the ship will be sent back to Lebanon and will not be allowed to sail to Gaza.