World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey stepped in after Egyptian security forces clashed on Wednesday with members of an international aid convoy trying to take relief supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip.
A Reuters correspondent in the port city of Arish, 40 km (25 miles) from Egypt's border with Gaza, saw security forces throwing stones at about 520 people travelling with the convoy.
The protestors were holding four members of the Arish harbour police while security forces detained seven members of the convoy, who have been locked in a dispute with Egyptian authorities over the route of the 198 trucks.
Witnesses told Bernama news agency, the incident was provoked by agents provocateurs of the Egyptian government.
Police used water cannon to force the protestors to leave Arish harbour, a security source said. Around 40 members of the convoy had minor injuries while around 15 police officials were hurt, witnesses said.
Cairo insists the food and other supplies should go to Gaza via an Israeli-controlled checkpoint while the convoy's leaders want to use the Egyptian-controlled Rafah border crossing.
Egyptian authorities wanted 55 of the trucks to go to the Israeli checkpoint, said George Galloway, the British MP.
"We refused this," he told Reuters TV. "It is completely unconscionable that 25 percent of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza. Because nothing that ever goes to Israel, ever arrives in Gaza."
Davutoglu steps in
Bernama report quoted Galloway as saying there are negotiations at the highest level by Turkish authorities with the Egyptian government including for the release of all those detained.
Meanwhile, Turkish media said, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held three separate phone conversations with his Egyptian counterpart to ease the tension at Al Arish port.
Following the Mr. Davutoğlu's initiations to settle down the issue, the clashes stopped, state TV said.
As well as Turkish deputies as Husnu Tuna, Cemal Yılmaz Demir, Mehmet Nil Hidir, Seracettin Karayagız, the Chairman of the Turkish Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Murat Mercan is also with members of Viva Palestina convoy.
According to a statement issued by the Turkish Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Mercan would accompany a convoy carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza between January 4 and 6. Mercan is planned to hold official talks while in Gaza, Anadolu news agency said.
Alhamy Aref, a local government official in North Sinai, was trying to negotiate a deal between the two sides on releasing the detained people, the Reuters correspondent reported.
Leaders of the convoy originally refused Egypt's condition that the aid should be shipped via Arish on the Mediterranean rather than via the Red Sea port of Nuweiba. But they later had to return to Arish on Thursday, a long way to Gaza.
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Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2010, 12:08