Syria condemns Israeli "piracy" against Lebanese ship
Syria strongly condemned on Thursday "the Israeli navy piracy" against a Lebanese ship which loaded with humanitarian aid for the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza, the official SANA news agency reported.
"Syria holds Israel fully responsible for the safety of the ship, its crew and all passengers," a foreign ministry source was quoted as saying, referring to the seizure of a Lebanese aid boat by the Israeli navy earlier, which was trying to enter the Gaza Strip water, reported Xinhua.
Syria "demands the international community and all bodies concerned with humanitarian affairs, to condemn this piracy, act immediately for the release of all the detainees, and request Israel to allow the Palestinian people access to the humanitarian aid on board the ship," said the source.
The Israeli army has confirmed the incident, saying the Lebanese cargo boat "Taly", with eight people and 60 tons of humanitarian supplies on board, was stopped by the Israeli navy from making its way to Gaza and was towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.
A spokesman of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) told Xinhua that the crew was taken in for questioning and all the humanitarian goods would be transferred into Gaza via border crossings.
Earlier, Al-Jadeed and al-Jazeera TVs reported that the Israeli navy fired three times on the ship, which caused no casualties.
The Al-Jadeed station said Israeli troops then boarded the ship and threatened the crew, adding that the Togo-flagged ship was surrounded by 18 Israeli gunboats demanding it to turn back.
The IDF spokesman, however, denied that the navy had used any gunfire against the boat, saying its crew had ignored different warnings from the Israeli navy.
The boat set sail from the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli on Monday night and headed for Gaza Wednesday morning after a stopover in Cyprus.
It was directed to al-Arish in Egypt initially, but the crew decided to try again to reach Gaza to challenge an Israeli siege of Gaza, according to Israeli army sources.