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Libyan Ship Attempting to Break Gaza Blockade Abandons Course

Al Amal Aid Ship to Gaza

July 9: The cargo ship Al Amal, chartered by a Libyan charity run by Muammar al-Qaddafi's son to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza and deliver about 2,000 tons of aid, is seen loading up in a Greek port. (AP)

The captain of a Libyan vessel attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza has abandoned course and agreed to sail to an Egyptian port after receiving an ultimatum from the Israeli navy, Israeli media reported.

The captain of the Libyan ship Al Amal assured Israeli officials that the activists aboard the vessel will obey his orders as he reroutes toward the Egyptian port of El Arish, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported.

The Israeli navy intercepted the Al Amal about 300 miles off the coast as the Libyan ship motored toward Gaza to deliver aid to the region, which is blockaded by land and sea.

Israeli officials issued an ultimatum to the crew, ordering it to change course and head for the Israeli port of Ashdod or Egypt's El Arish by midnight or face commandeering on the water.

The standoff at sea comes six weeks after the Israeli navy intercepted a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza in a violent clash during which nine Turkish activists were killed and several Israeli commandos were injured.

Israeli marines boarded lead vessel in the convoy at night and were overpowered by activists on board.

A military investigation into the affair this week concluded it was flawed by poor intelligence and preparation, but stopped short of recommending any individuals resign.

The Al Amal has been sailing from Greece on a mission organized by a Libyan charity headed by Saif al Islam, the son of the the country's leader, Muammar Qadaffi. It is thought to be carrying a full crew, 15 activists and about 2,000 tons of food and medicine.

Israel has eased its blockade of Gaza in the wake of the Mavi Marmara operation. It says it plans to allow all consumer goods into the strip, barring those that could be used for military purposes.

Sky News contributed to this report.