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Libyan aid ship to dock in Egypt, not Gaza

By the CNN Wire Staff
Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the Lavrio port, southeast of Athens, Greece, on Friday.
Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the Lavrio port, southeast of Athens, Greece, on Friday.
  • NEW: The ship is in Egyptian waters, foundation says
  • Aid ship organizers plan to arrived in Al Arish, Egypt
  • Egypt says it approved a request for the vessel to dock

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- The Libyan-backed ship carrying humanitarian goods for Gaza is headed to Egypt, a move that averts a showdown between Israel and the people on the vessel and generates more aid for the people in the beleaguered Palestinian land.

The Gadhafi Foundation, a charity headed by the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, told CNN in a statement Wednesday that it ordered the aid ship to dock at Al Arish in northeastern Egypt near Gaza. It said the ship was in Egyptian waters and will be at the port in two or three hours.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Husam Zaki confirmed that Egypt has approved a request from the vessel to dock there. Israeli officials -- who said the military had been making plans to stop the ship from going to Gaza -- had been saying since Tuesday the ship would go to Egypt and not Gaza.

The foundation said that its "purpose" was about "peace, not confrontation or provocation."

"Our goal was humanitarian and to highlight the Palestinian issue. For that, so the mission has been accomplished. Bloodshed was not the objective but the ship has accomplished its own objective through negotiations with Israel."

Israel has asked entities carrying Gaza-bound cargo to dock in the Israeli city of Ashdod, where material would be unloaded and then transported to the Gaza border. But the ship organizers said that the Israeli port "was never an option."

However, the group said it secured concessions for letting more aid and help into Gaza and termed the effort a "breakthrough."

The ship, which sailed from Greece on Saturday carrying 2,000 tons of aid, is the latest Gaza-bound aid ship attempting to breach an Israeli naval blockade of the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Israel says it must inspect all goods that enter Gaza so that weapons do not get into the hands of militants. Gaza is run by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that has said it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

Israel came under fierce international criticism for killing nine people in the course of boarding a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in May. Israel said the activists on that ship attacked its troops when they boarded the boat.

The Gadhafi Foundation refers to the ship as the Hope, although it appears to be registered as the MV Amalthea. It is Moldovan-flagged and run by ACA Shipping, based in Greece.

According to the Israeli military, 164 truck loads of goods went into Gaza on Tuesday, saying it was more aid than the Libyan ship has on it.

The Israeli assault on the Turkish ship reverberated internationally and shined light on the Gaza blockade.

Israel has resisted demands for an international inquiry into the incident, but an Israeli military investigation was conducted into the boarding of the Mavi Marmara and it criticized some aspects of the operation.

The operation prepared only one course of action and had no backup plan, military commanders were not presented with options other than boarding the ship, and different branches of military intelligence did not coordinate well enough, the report found.

But the report said the commando team that boarded the ship operated properly, with bravery and professionalism, and that the use of live fire was justified.

CNN's Izzy Lemberg, Talal Abu-Rahma, Zain Verjee, Ben Wedeman and Paul Colsey contributed to this report.