Israeli Navy Readies for Libyan Ship

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli naval forces were put on high alert Sunday as the Libyan-sponsored cargo ship set sail from Greece for the Gaza Strip.

The ship, named the al-Amal, which is supposed to be carrying 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid for Gaza, docked in Crete on Sunday.

Conflicting reports over the weekend indicated the ship might sail to Egypt's El-Arish port, but the executive director of the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, Youssef Sawani, said their intention was to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.

Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi, who reportedly has been in contact with the group, affirmed that "the goal is to reach Gaza."

"There is not only a humanitarian goal; there is a political message," Tibi said.

According to media reports, members of the 12-man crew hail from Cuba, Haiti, India and Syria, while most of the 15 passengers are Libyan except for one Nigerian and one Moroccan.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio on Sunday that "no ship of any kind will be allowed to arrive at Gaza."

"I hope that common sense will prevail. They can deliver aid to El-Arish or [the Israeli port of] Ashdod," Lieberman said.

Meanwhile, former Arab MK Azmi Bishara, who fled the country in 2007 to avoid investigation of his activities with Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, arrived in Libya on Sunday for a meeting with Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who serves as director of the flotilla's organizers, planned to sail with the activists aboard the ship.

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