Organizers: All-woman Lebanese aid ship to set sail for Gaza Sunday
Women instructed to carry blood type info in case 'they need blood transfusions in the event of being attacked by Israeli forces.'
The organizers of a Lebanese ship aiming to break Israel's Gaza blockade said Thursday that they plan to set sail from Lebanon on Sunday.
Samar al-Hajj says the ship, the Mariam, named after the Virgin Mary, will be carrying medicine for the seaside strip. Al-Hajj said all the passengers will be women activists.
Lebanon and Israel are technically at war and Israeli officials have warned Beirut not to allow the boat to sail.
Al-Hajj said Lebanon's president, prime minister and parliament speaker refused to meet with her, which appeared to signal the government's lack of support for the venture.
In May, the Israeli Defense Forces forcibly intercepted a flotilla of Gaza-bound aid ships. On one of the ships, violent clashes broke out and nine Turkish activists were killed.
Al-Hajj said the ship would first head for Cyprus, although it was unclear if the Cypriot authorities will grant permission for it to continue on to Gaza.
"All on board were instructed to carry details of their blood groups in case they need blood transfusions in the event of being attacked by Israeli forces," she said.
"There are nuns, doctors, lawyers, journalists, Christian and Muslim women on board," said Hajj. The group includes Lebanese singer May Hariri and a group of nuns from the United States, she added.
Earlier Thursday, Channel 10 quoted Palestinian media as saying that an aid ship bound for the Gaza Strip had departed Algeria.
According to the Palestinian paper "Palestine Today", the ship, sponsored by the Algerian government, departed with religious leaders and political officials on board along with supplies of food, medicine, and educational materials.
The ship was organized by religious leaders and businessmen to "express solidarity with the Palestinian people," the report said.
In July, a Libyan-sponsored aid ship attempted to reach Gaza but diverted to the Egyptian port of El Arish, where its cargo was unloaded and delivered to Gaza by land.