An international humanitarian relief convoy is under attack in the Egyptian port of Al-Arish, having arrived after a long run-around by Egyptian authorities attempting to derail the mission.
A convoy of humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza strip, led by British MP George Galloway and organized by the British aid group Viva Palestina, was diverted late last week to the Jordanian port of Aqaba, after being denied permission by Egypt to enter Gaza. The Egyptians demanded the convoy travel overland through Syria, get Israeli permission to enter Gaza, and then turn over all the aid and vehicles to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency after entering Gaza from the Egyptian port of Al-Arish.
After 16 days travel from Britain, the 450 member convoy of 220 trucks and ambulances was forced to take a 700km detour, after which a Turkish shipping company transported the convoy from the Syrian port of Latakia to Al-Arish. When the group of volunteers from over 17 countries arrived, the were again denied entry to Gaza by Egyptian authorities.
According to Viva Paelstina convoy leader Kevin Ovenden, an official from Cairo left in the midst of nogtiations to get the convoy into Gaza, and did not return, after which over 2,000 riot police forcibly entered the convoy camp and began attacking its members.
According to a first hand account posted at Irish4Palestine, "outsiders arrived armed with sticks and stones entered the compound and attacked the members and were joined by Egyptian police squad".
Viva Palestina has a sample letter to send a message to your local Egyptian embassy to protest the the Egyptian government’s assault on this international humanitarian aid convoy and it’s support of Israel’s siege of Gaza, which has been blocking entry of food, fuel, medical supplies and other necessities for the people of Gaza since June, 2007.
The convoy was set to arrive on the one year anniversary of Israel’s brutal military assault on the Gaza strip, described below by B’Tselem, the Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
Between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, the Israeli military carried out an attack on the Gaza Strip named Operation Cast Lead. The magnitude of the harm to the population was unprecedented: 1,385 Palestinians were killed, 762 of whom did not take part in the hostilities. Of these, 318 were minors under age 18. More than 5,300 Palestinians were wounded, of them over 350 seriously so. Israel also caused enormous damage to residential dwellings, industrial buildings, agriculture and infrastructure for electricity, sanitation, water, and health, which was on the verge of collapse prior to the operation. According to UN figures, Israel destroyed more than 3,500 residential dwellings and 20,000 people were left homeless.
Video from Turkish television