Next Gaza aid missions in doubt, Egypt bans more convoys

Egypt said it will not alllow any more aid convoys to Gaza Strip that was hit by years of Israeli siege.

Next Gaza aid missions in doubt, Egypt bans more convoys

Egypt said it will not alllow any more aid convoys to Gaza Strip that was hit by years of Israeli siege after Viva Palestina convoy in a move likely to draw reactions.

The foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday, aid convoys bound for the Gaza Strip will now be banned from travelling across Egypt.

Ahmed Abul Gheit told government newspaper Al-Ahram that members of one convoy led by British MP George Galloway committed "criminal" acts on Egyptian soil on their way to the blockaded Palestinian coastal enclave.

"Egypt will no longer allow convoys, regardless of their origin or who is organising them, from crossing its territory," Abul Gheit said.

"Members of the (Viva Palestina) convoy committed hostile acts, even criminal ones, on Egyptian territory," the foreign minister added without elaborating these "crimes".

On Tuesday night police threw stones at international activists with the Viva Palestina convoy and clashed with them in Egyptian the port town of El-Arish, 45 kilometres (30 miles) from the Gaza border.

Clashes came after Egyptian attempt to send some of the convoy's trucks to Gaza through Israel.

Seven protesters were arrested during Tuesday's clashes, but police swapped them for four policemen held by the activists.

A prosecutor in El-Arish later issued warrants for the arrest of seven activists, including two Britons and an American woman.

He said that, from now on aid, to Gaza must be handed over to the Red Crescent at El-Arish who will turn it over to the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim relief organisation in Gaza.

Egypt also declared British MP George Galloway from the country "persona non grata" on Friday after internationl aid activists who joined him finnally delivered the aid to the besieged

The convoy was held up for over one week in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba after Egypt refused it entry through the southern Sinai, a shotcut to Gaza.

The convoy was forced to travel to the Syrian port of Latakia and take a ferry to El-Arish on Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

Egypt at last allowed most of the convoy and Galloway to enter Gaza after the clashes.

1.5 million Gazans live under heavy Israel siege and Egypt still insists on not to opening the only Gaza border crossing in a move condemned around the world in protests, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives since 2007.

A group of international lawyers and human rights activists accuse Israel of committing "genocide" through its crippling blockade of the Strip.



Agencies

Last Mod: 10 Ocak 2010, 17:19
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