Iran says humanitarian aid ship nearing Gaza

An Iranian ship carrying humanitarian aid is nearing Gaza, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Iran says humanitarian aid ship nearing Gaza

An Iranian ship carrying humanitarian aid is nearing Gaza, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

There was no more comment how it could reach the coastal Palestinian territory which is under Israeli bombardment.

Iran has condemned the Jewish state for its attacks in Gaza. It also criticized what Tehran says is the silence and inaction of some Arab states.

Tehran says it gives moral, financial and humanitarian support.

"We are intent on helping (people in Gaza)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said.

"Our ship has passed through Port Said (in Egypt at the northern end of the Suez Canal) and is now about to enter the Gaza region to dispense the relief operation," he told a weekly news conference.

Port Said is about 180 km (110 miles) west of the Gaza coast.

Iran said in December it would send the aid ship and last week said it had told Egypt, the only Arab state to border Gaza, it was ready to treat those wounded in Israel's assault and wanted to set up a field hospital nearby on Egyptian territory.

Gaza medical officials say nearly 900 Palestinians, including many civilians, have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27. Thirteen Israelis have been killed.

Qashqavi suggested Tehran was also sending help by plane, without giving details:

"Our plane wants to land. Of course, one plane belonging to us has already landed and we are asking for a permit and we are hoping Egypt would cooperate on the dispatch of the aid."

Health Minister Kamran Lankarani said drugs, medical equipment and several tonnes of food stuff had been sent to Gaza, but that Israeli bombardment meant not all of it could be delivered to those in need, the IRNA news agency said.

Iran does not recognise Israel as a state and does not have full relations with Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Iran has accused Egypt of not doing enough to help Gaza's Palestinians.

Egypt sometimes allows wounded people and medical supplies through its border with Gaza but the crossing has been closed to ordinary traffic since Hamas seized control there in 2007.

The United Nations, worried about the deepening humanitarian crisis, has said it hopes to resume full aid distribution. UN said that Israel attacked on its aid convoy and killed a driver on Thursday.

Reuters
Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2009, 11:10
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