Israel steps up rhetoric against Libyan boat

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Israel steps up rhetoric against Libyan boat

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As a Libyan-organised aid boat heads towards Gaza, the Israeli government is insisting it will not allow a breach of its blockade of the Palestinian territory.

The Amalthea, renamed Hope, left Lavrio in Greece last night carrying 2,000 tonnes of aid.

The latest declarations from Israel contrast with yesterday’s claim that it had negotiated a diplomatic solution to the latest challenge to its blockade.

It had said the ship had agreed to dock in Egypt but sources on the boat say it will try to go to Gaza.

Following the Sunday cabinet meeting, Israeli Minister of Science Daniel Hershkovitz said: “Israel hasn’t changed its policy, and its policy is very clear. No ships will be allowed to arrive at Gaza, so if they want to transfer the humanitarian equipment to the people of Gaza they are welcome to do it through [the Israeli port of] Ashdod.”

Israel has been the subject of much criticism since its marines stormed a Turkish-flagged ship trying to run the blockade in May, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists.

Israel insists its troops acted in self defence.

The United Nations says the blockade has led to a humanitarian crisis for the strip’s 1.5 million inhabitants.