The humanitarian aid ship ‘Dignity’ has managed to reach land at Tiro, a city in southern Lebanon. The ship had been intercepted and rammed several hours before by an Israeli patrol boat as it tried to get to the Gaza Strip to deliver a further 3.5 tons of basic goods, which were mostly medicines intended for the population of the Palestinian enclave which has undergone continuous bombing raids from Israel. The ship, which is about 20 metres long, flying the British flag and belonging to the pacifist ‘Free Gaza’ movement which is based in the United States, was escorted to port by a unit of the Lebanese Navy and several fishing boats, which were flying Lebanese or local Shiite party flags, including that of Hezbollah. The boat was greeted at port by an enormous crowd, including both Lebanese and Palestinian onlookers, who greeted the ship’s arrival with a cheer.
All 16 members of the crew, from various countries, were unhurt by the ‘Dignity’ is not now able to sail: in fact a large tear was visible in the keel as a result of the collision, and according to sources from the humanitarian group, quite a lot of water came onboard after the patrol boat’s attack, which also included several volleys of bullets from automatic weapons. This last detail, has however been denied by the spokesman of the Israeli foreign ministry, Yigal Palmor, who admitted that there had been ”physical contact” between the Coast Guard’s boat and the ship, which set out yesterday evening from Cyprus. The Cypriot State radio has reported that the country’s government intends to ask for explanations from Israel for what happened, partly because there were also three Cypriots on board, including Eleni Theocharous, an MP.