|Israel is tracking an Asian aid ship that has docked in Syria and has declared plans to sail to the Gaza Strip to break the Israel-imposed sea blockade over the Palestinian territory.|
According to press reports, the Asia 1 ship carrying around 160 activists, is waiting for Egyptian government approval to sail to the port of El Arish and from there to then sail to Gaza. The ship is reportedly carrying $1 million worth of supplies including a large medical shipment donated by the Iranian Red Crescent.
Gaza bound flotilla arrives in Lebanon
The group met last week with Hamas’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashal and was told that the Palestinians were “fighting for a real state without any occupation and with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The ship is the first vessel to set sail from Asia bound for the Gaza Strip. Among its passengers are citizens reportedly from India, Jordan, Iran, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, Bahrain, Malaysia, Japan and Bangladesh.
Israel has made clear that it will not allow ships to sail freely into the Gaza Strip but will board and tow them to the Ashdod Port where their cargo will be inspected and if cleared allowed to be transferred to Gaza. Israel’s concern is that Hamas will use the aid convoys to smuggle advanced weaponry and high-grade explosives into the Gaza Strip.