The Israeli Navy radioed a warning to a Libyan ship steaming toward Gaza on Tuesday to change course, an Israeli military spokesman said.
“We hope they will go back or to El Arish,” the spokesman said, referring to an Egyptian port. “We made radio contact with them when they were about 100 miles off shore in the past couple hours. We will take over the boat if necessary. What I can tell you is that it will not reach Gaza.”
I hope that there isn't another violent confrontation on the ship. Israel doesn't need a military clash with a ship sent by the son of the Libyan dictator.
It sounds from the NY Times article that there is disagreement between the crew of the ship and the fifteen "activists" on board, who are sponsored by Seif Al Islam Gaddafi's Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.
Haaretz reports that the captain told the Israeli Navy that they will be sailing to El-Arish, in Egypt, and not to Gaza.
Speaking with Israeli authorities by radio, the captain of the Al-Amal assured them that he is in charge of the vessel and that the activists aboard will obey his orders. One of the activists' leaders, a Libyan national, also said that, despite the group's desire to sail to Gaza, it will accept their captain's decision.I hope they do sail peacefully to Egypt.
Israel Navy officials continue to track the aid ship, saying they will only know the Al-Amal's true course at around 4 A.M. when it nears the coast.
The Israeli navy earlier Tuesday made radio contact with the Libyan-sponsored ship sailing for Gaza, a military spokeswoman said.
"The navy just began its process of trying to stop the ship," she said. "At this time the process of communicating with them has begun."
Israel, however, has denied it gave the activists an ultimatum to change course and sail to El-Arish by midnight or face a forceful takeover.
Israel warned the Moldovan-flagged, Greek-registered Al-Amal that it was entering a closed military zone.