Thu, Aug 19, 2010 | Arutz Sheva | By Chana Ya’ar
Cyprus to Block Lebanese Ship for Gaza
A ship full of female activists intent on breaking Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza is scheduled to set sail Sunday from Lebanon, but appears to have little support from government leadership.
The “Maryam,” named for Christianity’s Virgin Mary, also is unlikely to make it past Cyprus, its first port of call due to the fact that Lebanon is technically still at war with Israel, thus prohibiting direct travel.
The Cypriot Ambassador to Lebanon has announced his nation will not allow the pro-Hamas vessel to proceed to Gaza when it reaches port.
Kyriacos Kouros informed The Associated Press on Thursday the ship’s Christian and Muslim crew and her passengers would be deported to their countries of origin once they arrive.
“We decided that such a ship will not be allowed to enter Cyprus,” he said, adding that the vessel could endanger “regional peace and stability.”
Organizer Samar al-Hajj vowed to set sail anyway, insisting “We are not children who can be told to stay home.” She spoke with reporters after security forces prevented her group from carrying out a news conference from the ship.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has refused to meet with the group, as has Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri.
Al-Hajj told media outside the port in Tripoli the vessel would be carrying a “symbolic” cargo of cancer medication, toys and books. Also on the vessel will be some 50 to 75 female activists intent on violating Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza.
The flotilla boat has been trying to get off the ground since June, with organizers planning the event since Turkish terrorists clashed with Israel Navy commandos aboard the Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel at the end of May.
Initial delays were due to warnings from both Israel and the United States, urging Lebanon to “behave responsibly” and send supplies to Gaza by land, and not be sea.
The ship was once again scheduled to set sail two weeks ago, complete with a nun and a heavily pregnant mother, but again was somehow delayed.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told Israel National News at the time, “There are no limits on goods going into Gaza, and any ships trying to bring so-called aid to Gaza will be regarded as provocations.”
Al-Hajj said Lebanon’s president, prime minister and parliament speaker did not respond to her requests to meet, which appeared to signal the government’s lack of support for the venture.