Cyprus regrets Israeli blockage of aid boat for Gaza
Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou expressed regret over the Israeli
navy's action to force back a boat carrying medical aid for Gaza early
The Dignity boat chartered by the US-based Free Gaza Movement
sailed to Gaza from Cyprus on Monday evening, with doctors, volunteers and
reporters on board.
But it was rammed by an Israeli patrol vessel on
international waters near Gaza early yesterday morning, according to reporters
on the boat.
A statement of Cyprus' Foreign Ministry said it has been closely
monitoring the situation and taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of
those on board.
"To this end, the ministry is in contact with the ministries
of foreign affairs of Israel and Lebanon and other authorities concerned, as
well as with members of the team of volunteers," it added.
The Dignity had to
arrive at Tyre port in south Lebanon in the afternoon. All the 16 people on
board were reportedly well.
Three Cypriots, including parliament member Eleni
Theoharous, have flown back to Cyprus yesterday evening.
Speaking upon her
return, Theoharous accused Israel of "violating international law and committing
a crime against humanity."
However, a press release from the Israeli embassy
in Nicosia insisted that the fact several journalists were among those aboard
the Dignity "indicates that the purpose and behavior of the ship was primarily
to create a media event."
A group of Palestinians living in Cyprus staged a
demonstration in support of the aborted aid mission yesterday evening outside
the Israeli embassy.