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Israel stops aid ship from entering Gaza
Tehran, Jan 14 (IANS):
Published on 15 Jan. 2009 12:43 AM IST
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Iran claimed Wednesday that Israeli forces have stopped its ship containing humanitarian aid for Palestinians from reaching the Gaza Strip, the official IRNA news agency reported. The Iranian ship ‘Shahed’ carrying food and medicine for Gazans who have been suffering from severe humanitarian crisis was stopped some 20 miles off the Gaza coast, said Ahmad Navab, an Iranian official in charge of the aid shipment. The ship, which left Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas two weeks ago, was to arrive at the port of Gaza Saturday, Navab said. The ship passed through the Suez Canal Friday and had been waiting for permission to enter Gaza, the official said and added: “The ship did not receive permission to pass through the Israeli embargo of Gaza.” “If the ship cannot enter Gaza, Iran’s humanitarian aid will be transferred via Egypt and the Rafah crossing point,” he added. Navab reiterated that there is no ship other than the Iranian ship containing humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza in the regional waters. The official also hoped that the Egyptian government would open the Rafah crossing point temporarily to let the Iranian humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza. Meanwhile, Iran’s cargo plane carrying humanitarian supplies for the people of Gaza had landed in Cairo some ten days ago. The cargo is still in the Egyptian territory close to the city of Gaza and has not been permitted to reach the Gazans. Iran, one of the main supporters of Hamas which controls Gaza, has criticised the international community for not doing enough to persuade Israel to stop its military aggression on Gazans. Iran’s supreme religious leader Ayotollah Ali Khamenei has also urged Muslim countries to come forward and help Palestinians in Gaza fight the aggressors. He called Tuesday for Muslims to boycott products linked to Israel. “Muslims should avoid any action which might bring profit for Israelis,” he said. Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip entered its 19th day Wednesday with the Palestinian death toll nearing around 1,000, mostly civilians, including women and children.

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