The all-women Bolivian-flagged ship Mariam (named for the Virgin Mary) is loaded down with cargo and poised to try to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip this weekend. But Israeli officials are pressing hard to see it stopped, threatening Lebanon if they even allow the ship to leave port.
The ship that is preparing to sail from Lebanon has nothing to do with humanitarianism,” insisted Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, adding that the ship is plotting to help “kill Israeli civilians.”
Exactly how a ship full of cancer medicine is going to kill civilians is unclear, but while most will shrug off Barak’s comments as typical rhetoric, few doubt the credibility of Israeli threats to use military force against the boat, particularly in the wake of the May 31 killing of nine aid workers on a similar ship by Israeli commandos.
The Lebanese government so far doesn’t appear to have committed to stopping the ship, but the Cypriot government has said they won’t allow it to sail to Gaza if it tries to arrive there first. Direct sailing from Lebanon to Gaza would not be allowed, according to Lebanese officials.