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Libya’s PR Ploy

Alan Levine

Israel’s Navy today turned away a Libyan ship reportedly filled with humanitarian goods destined for the Gaza Strip. This was the first attempt by a foreign state to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza coast. The boat’s arrival was preceded by days of publicity, led by Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddaffi, as a “siege defying mission.”

Israel isn’t opposed to allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. Indeed, it allowed 33 truckloads of humanitarian goods into Gaza in late November. In this case, Israel’s decision stemmed from fears that the boat was “carrying weapons and explosives for Hamas.” After all, Libya is a “hostile state to Israel.” Indeed, Gaddaffi attacked U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama for pro-Israel remarks, calling him a “black with an inferiority complex.” Libya also prevented the U.N. from passing a resolution condemning the massacre of 8 students in Jerusalem.

After Libya’s decision to abandon its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the U.S. restored relations with Libya. Since then, however, analysts have openly questioned rapprochement with this unstable country, governed by an even more unstable leader.