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August 06, 1993 - Image 114

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Q

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An Israeli Dabur boat on patrol.

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U.N inspections of ships headed for Eilat — on the

grounds that they may be carrying goods for Iraq
— has left Israelis shaking their heads.

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1,

n May 1967, when Egypt
blockaded Israeli ship-
ping through the Straits
of Tiran at the entrance
to the Gulf of Aqaba, Israel
interpreted the move as
gross provocation and soon
dealt with it by capturing
the Egyptian position com-
manding the straits (togeth-
er with the rest of the Sinai
Peninsula) in the Six-Day
War.
Now 26 years later, in one
of the more Kafkaesque
affairs to hit Israel in many
a day, Israeli ships heading
for Eilat are again being
denied entrance to the
straits — but this time by a
United Nations police force
manned by American,
French and British troops.
This strange second
"blockade of Eilat" is actual-
ly a circuitous spin-off of the
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait
and subsequent sanctions
against Baghdad.
To prevent the shipment
of boycotted goods, and
especially military hard-
ware, to Iraq via the
Jordanian port of Aqaba
(which lies directly opposite
that of Eilat), the U.N. insti-
tuted a check of the traffic
passing through the Straits
of Tiran. In the interests of
scrupulous fairness, per-
haps, every ship entering
the straits, whether headed
for Aqaba or Eilat, became
subject to inspection —

though it's patently absurd
that any cargo unloaded at
Eilat would be destined for
Iraq.
Besides, even if the
unimaginable happened and
Israel and Iraq joined in a
diabolical smuggling plot,
the banned cargo could be
unloaded at Haifa or
Ashdod — Israel's two
Mediterranean ports —
which are free of U.N.
inspection.
Until last month the
whole matter was fairly aca-
demic, since the inspection
of the Israeli ships was
mostly perfunctory: a
perusal of their cargo mani-
fests before they passed
through the straits.
But in mid-June, for rea-
sons no one has yet been
able to fathom, that abrupt-
ly changed. On June 14,
American troops prevented
the "Zim Osaka" from enter-
ing the Gulf of Aqaba on the
grounds that the containers
on its deck were stacked too
high (five stories) to be
checked. The ship was
rerouted through the Suez
Canal and docked at Haifa.
Since then, five other Israeli
container ships have suf-
fered the same fate.
But even that's not the
height of the oddity. On
July 6, a day after inspect-
ing and passing the cargo

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