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Iran to send blockade-busting aid ship to Gaza

JERUSALEM — Iran said Tuesday it would send a blockade-busting ship carrying aid and pro-Palestinian activists to Gaza. The announcement fueled concern in Israel, where commandos were training for another possible confrontation at sea.

Iran's state television reported that an Iranian ship called "Infants of Gaza" would sail Sunday, carrying 1,100 tons of relief supplies and 10 pro-Palestinian activists.

Israel eased its three-year-old blockade of Gaza under international pressure after a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla on May 31 that killed nine Turkish activists.

"No one in their right mind can believe that a ship sent by the ayatollahs and their Revolutionary Guards has anything to do with humanitarian aid," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. "I don't think there is one single country in this region and beyond that would let such an ayatollah ship come near its coasts."

The Associated Press was told by security officials that the prospect of an Iranian boat headed for Gaza has Israel deeply worried and that naval commandos were training for the possibility of taking on a vessel with a suicide bomber on board.

The Iranian ship is one of several that activists say will head for Gaza in the next few months. One is said to be heading from Lebanon soon.

Israel launches military satellite

Israel's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it has launched a military satellite called Ofek 9, the latest in a series of spy satellites. The Associated Press said it was told by Israeli defense officials that Ofek 9 is a spy satellite with a high resolution camera. It will join two other active spy satellites.

Housing plan criticized: Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is in the United States for talks with the Obama administration, criticized a plan to raze 22 Palestinian homes to make room for an Israeli tourist center in disputed East Jerusalem after the United States expressed concern that the project could incite violence. Barak said Jerusalem officials "are not displaying common sense or good timing, and not for the first time."

Iran to send blockade-busting aid ship to Gaza 06/22/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 9:25pm]
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