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Aid flotilla likely will not sail to Gaza, Israel says

By the CNN Wire Staff
Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the Lavrio port, southeast of Athens, Greece, on Friday.
Workers load supplies on to a cargo ship at the Lavrio port, southeast of Athens, Greece, on Friday.
  • NEW: Ship departs from Greek port
  • Ship carrying 2,000 tons of food and medication
  • Aid organized by charity headed by Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi's son
  • Israel complained and said ship should be stopped
  • Gaza
  • Israel
  • Libya

Jerusalem (CNN) -- An aid flotilla intended to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza likely will dock at another port, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday.

The 2,000 tons of aid, organized by a global charity headed by the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, set sail Saturday from the Greek port of Lavrio. The food and medication were being transported on a Moldovan ship.

The charity's website said the cargo displayed "support and solidarity with the people of Gaza and their plight under siege."

The vessel is carrying 10 charity supporters, most of them Libyan, and its 12-member crew.

Israel had appealed to the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia -- the four parties that have been involved on mediating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks -- to stop the ship from sailing to Gaza, according to an official with the foreign ministry.

"The flotilla does not help the people of Gaza, it only helps Hamas," he told CNN. "If they want to help the people of Gaza they should deliver the aid to Israel and Israel will deliver it to the people of Gaza."

After negotiations with Greece and Moldova, all indications Saturday were that the ship would sail to another port, said Tzahi Moshe, spokesperson for Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Israel was heavily criticized after its commandos stormed an aid flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, leaving nine Turkish activists dead and several Israeli soldiers wounded after an melee broke out on one of the aid ships, the "Mavi Marmara."

Israel denies that its soldiers were trigger happy in the raid, saying the troops were in danger of being lynched and only acted in self-defense after the activists had initiated the violence.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in June 2006 and tightened it the following year after Hamas took control of Gaza. After the May incident, Israel eased restrictions, allowing a flurry of previously banned goods into the Hamas controlled territory. But the naval blockade remains intact.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen and journalist Elinda Labropoulou contributed to this report.