JERUSALEM (JTA) — "There has been no talk" of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards escorting an Iranian aid ship bound for Gaza, an Iranian Red Crescent spokesman said.
The ship, called The Children of Gaza, will leave on Sunday, spokesman Abdul Rauf Adibzadeh announced Tuesday, according to the ISNA Iranian student news agency.
Earlier this month, the Revolutionary Guards reportedly said it was willing to escort aid flotillas to Gaza. The paramilitary corps, founded after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, is a powerful protector of the Iranian regime.
The privately owned ship, which will arrive in waters off the Gaza Strip in about two weeks, will be carrying about 1,000 tons of medicine and food aid, as well as clothing and toys donated by Iranian citizens. It also will be carrying five Red Crescent volunteers and five reporters, Adibzadeh said.
The ship will sail through the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea and enter the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal, according to reports. Egypt reportedly has refused to close the canal to the ship.
Iran announced it would send aid to Gaza via sea and air late last month following Israel’s interception of a Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla, during which nine Turkish passengers were killed.
The Red Crescent sent an aid ship to Gaza in December 2008 that was intercepted by Israel’s Navy.
Israel has called for aid to be brought to its Ashdod port, where the cargo can be inspected and transported to Gaza.