JERUSALEM, Israel - After a night of conflicting reports between the organizers of the Libyan-chartered cargo ship, al-Amal (Arabic for "the hope"), and the vessel's captain, the ship steamed ahead to the Egyptian port of el-Arish.
Eight Israeli warships blocked the ship from sailing toward the Gaza port.
The huge vessel, carrying 2,000 tons of products, has 15 pro-Palestinian activists and 12 crew members on board. The ship set sail on Saturday from the Greek port of Lavrio, planning to reach Gaza by Wednesday.
CBN News Sr. Editor John Waage appeared on the July 14 edition of the CBN Newschannel's Midday news program to talk more about the incident. Click play for his comments.
Late Tuesday evening, the IDF contacted the Moldovan-flagged cargo ship, urging it to change course and sail to el-Arish. Meanwhile, Israel's Navy tracked the ship's progress and made preparation to board it if that became necessary.
The ship's Cuban captain, Antonio, told the IDF by radio that he intended to sail to el-Arish, while its Libyan sponsors insisted it would not be diverted from delivering its cargo to Gaza.
The Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, chaired by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, organized the flotilla.
Earlier, Gaddafi said the goal was to break the naval blockade and all reports to the contrary were intended to confuse the international community.
Before the ship set sail on Saturday, several pro-Palestinian activists spoke about their goals on Arab television stations.
Faraj al-Ghazali, general coordinator of the Libyan Committee to Support the Palestinian people, told al-Aksa TV that the activists on board were prepared to sacrifice themselves to reach Gaza.
On al-Jazerra television, Moroccan passenger Issam al-Sudani said the Muslims on board the ship "do not fear death [and] love to die as shahids [martyrs]."
Mahfouz al-Kabariti, speaking on al-Alam TV on behalf of Hamas' Popular Committee to Break the Siege of the Gaza Strip, said Israel's threats would not prevent the ship from reaching Gaza. The group's leader, Jamal al-Khudari, made similar statements on al-Aksa TV.
On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley "urged the Libyan government to avoid any unnecessary confrontation" and "act responsibly."
"We…have urged all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so their cargo can be inspected by the government of Israel and transferred by land crossings into Gaza," Crowley told reporters.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said U.S. and European Union responses to the Libyan flotilla affirmed Israel's position.
Six weeks ago, Israeli Navy commandos boarded the Turkish-owned Mavi Mamara, the flagship of a six-vessel flotilla, when its crew refused to change course and sail to the port at Ashdod.
Some 40 armed terrorists, affiliated with global jihadist organizations, attacked the soldiers.
In the ensuing fight, nine activists were killed, several of whom had declared beforehand their hope to die as shahids.