Moroccans call on government to block ship suspected of carrying weapons to Israel

Cargo vessel will pass through Morocco's territorial waters en route to Spanish port of Cartagena

Ships sailing east from the Atlantic must pass through the Strait of Gibraltar, separating Spain and Morocco, to enter the Mediterranean. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

An activist group in Morocco has called on the government to prevent the passage of the Japanese-owned cargo ship, Vertom Odette, through its territorial waters over suspicion it is carrying weapons bound for Israel.

The commercial ship, which is sailing under the flag of Luxembourg, left India on April 18 and is set to arrive at the Spanish port of Cartagena on Wednesday, the Moroccan Front to Support Palestine and Against Normalisation said.

Ships sailing east from the Atlantic must pass through the Strait of Gibraltar, separating Spain and Morocco, to enter the Mediterranean.

In a letter to Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhnoush, the group expressed concern that the Vertom Odette is carrying a shipment of ammunition and weapons for Israel and called on the government to act swiftly to prevent what it described as the implication of Morocco "in war crimes".

"The aim of this letter is to avoid the involvement of Moroccan authorities, before the eyes of the world and international law, in accusations relating to complicity in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the letter read.

"The International Court of Justice’s recent decision stated that the occupying state must desist and be careful not to commit any act of genocide against the Palestinians. This decision makes every government that supplies Israel with weapons vulnerable to accusation of complicity in this genocide."

Hundreds have shared online posts urging authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent the Vertom Odette ship from entering Moroccan waters and to ensure it does not reach Israel.

Dozens of activists with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Luxembourg staged a sit-in outside their country’s Foreign Ministry headquarters on Monday to demand their government prohibits the ship from sailing under the country's flag.

“The Vertom Odette, currently headed to the Spanish port of Cartagena, must be stopped and searched – and all countries have the duty to stop arms deliveries to Israel, including in transit and by ships under their flag,” BDS said in a post on X.

On May 21, Spain refused to give permission for the Israel-bound Danish ship Marianne Danica to dock at Cartagena, after reports it was carrying 26.8 tonnes of explosives, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

Activists believe that due to the similarity in the two ships' routes, it is likely the Vertom Odette is also carries a shipment of explosives to Israel.

Updated: June 04, 2024, 2:43 PM