Lebanese aid ship to leave for Gaza on Sunday
A Lebanese aid vessel carrying women activists is set to leave Sunday en route to Gaza in the latest attempt to defy the Israeli blockade, one of the organizers said Thursday, DPA reported.
Up to 75 women of different nationalities will be on board the Saint Mariam, Samar al Hajj told a news conference in the northern port of Tripoli.
Hajj said the ship would first head for Cyprus, although it was unclear if the Cypriot authorities will grant permission for it to continue on to Gaza.
"There are nuns, doctors, lawyers, journalists, Christian and Muslim women on board," said Hajj. The group includes Lebanese singer May Hariri and a group of nuns from the United States, she added.
The Saint Mariam was due to set off several weeks ago but organizers faced delays after Israel launched a diplomatic effort to pressure Lebanon to stop the journey.
Hajj said the ship was on a humanitarian mission, stocked with medical instruments and cancer medicines for Gaza's Palestinian population.
She said the women were not affiliated to any political group and were aware of the dangers they faced.
"All on board were instructed to carry details of their blood groups in case they need blood transfusions if the event of being attacked by Israeli forces," she said.
Israeli commandoes stormed a Turkish vessel tyring to break the blockade in May, killing nine activists on board.
Hajj said the latest mission was not intended to provoke the Israelis, who have imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007 in a bid to prevent militants obtaining weapons to use against the Jewish state.