A ship sent by a Libyan charity to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip changed course in the Mediterranean Sea and instead appeared headed for an Egyptian port, signaling that it would avoid a showdown with the Israeli navy.
Israel’s military said the vessel, Moldovan-flagged Almathea, was now steaming away from Gaza and toward the port city of el-Arish. An Al-Jazeera reporter on board the aid ship said Israeli vessels were arrayed in a “wall” meant to prevent the ship from continuing toward Gaza.
In recent days, with the vessel’s organisers insisting it would go to Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel saying it would not allow that to happen, the stage appeared set for a showdown on the high seas. Framing the faceoff was Israel’s botched attempt to block a similar Gaza-bound aid ship in May, an incident that ended with the deaths of nine Turkish activists in a violent confrontation on board.