(JTA) – A Libyan-sponsored humanitarian aid ship has set sail from Greece and is headed for Gaza, organizers say.
The ship, originally named the Amalthea but renamed Hope for the voyage, reportedly left Saturday night from a port southeast of Athens.
The ship, sponsored by the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation and organized by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, is carrying 2,000 tons of food and medicine, 15 volunteers who want to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and 12 crew members, according to reports.
Organizers said aid on the ship includes sacks of rice and sugar, corn oil and olive paste, mostly donated from Greek companies and charities.
Greek authorities said Saturday night when the ship left that it was heading for Egypt. But Yousseuf Sawani, a director of the Gaddafi foundation, told Al Jazeera Sunday that the ship was planning to reach Gaza.
"This is definitely a part of the campaign against the ship, a campaign of distortion, but we are definitely heading towards Gaza because that is where aid should be heading to," he told Al Jazeera.
The ship is expected to approach either Egypt or Gaza late Tuesday or Wednesday.
Officials aboard the ship said before it left port that they would not object if Israel asks to check the ship’s certificates and cargo. Additionally, they had said they would allow Israel to deliver the aid.
Organizers of a Free Gaza flotilla rejected similar offers from Israel. Israeli commandoes intercepted the six-ship flotilla on May 31; five raids were peaceful, but the sixth, aboard the largest Turkish-flagged ship, resulted in violence that left dead nine Turks, including one Turkish American. It also precipitated a crisis in Turkish-Israel relations and calls for an international investigation, which Israel and the United States have so far resisted.
The flotilla was aimed at breaching Israel’s embargo of Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist group. Israel lifted its three-year land blockade of Gaza last month in response to international pressure.