Istanbul protest
Photo: AP

International aid convoy enters Gaza Strip

Convoy enters Gaza following violent clashes in El-Arish; earlier, Turkish foreign minister telephones Egyptian counterpart, asks him to release members of aid convoy

The aid convoy sent by the Viva Palestina organization entered the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing Wednesday evening. The convoy was accompanied by international activists who call for an end to the siege on Gaza, including British Member of Parliament George Galloway and 17 members of the Turkish parliament.


Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu telephoned his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit several times and urged him to release members of an aid convoy blocked at El-Arish following violent clashes.


About 55 people were injured late Tuesday in clashes between Egyptian police and pro-Palestinian activists trying to get a relief convoy into the Gaza Strip, militants and medics said.


Some 520 activists belonging to the convoy - led by British MP Galloway - broke down the gate at the port in El-Arish to protest an Egyptian decision to ship some of the goods through Israel.


They blocked the two entrances to the Sinai port with vehicles, and clashed with police. Forty were injured, a source close to them said, while medical sources said 15 policemen were also hurt.


Protestor with Livni-Mubarak picture (Photo: AP)


The protests were sparked by an Egyptian decision to allow 139 vehicles to enter Gaza through the Rafah bordering crossing, about 45 kilometers (30 miles) from El-Arish, but requiring a remaining 59 vehicles to pass via Israel.


Talks in which Galloway and a delegation of Turkish MPs sought to change the Egyptian's minds proved unsuccessful.


Galloway said Israel was likely to prevent convoy lorries entering Gaza. He told Sky News, "It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza."


In Istanbul, thousands of protesters staged a demonstration to condemn the Egyptian police crackdown on the Gaza-bound aid convoy. The protestors marched towards the Egyptian Consulate in the Turkish capital and held a picture of assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah and a picture titled "the picture of betrayal", showing Egyptian President Hosni Muabark shaking hands with former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.


Tuesday's demonstration joined a wave of protests against Mubarak across the Arab world. The Hamas organization in Gaza called on Palestinians on Wednesday morning to stage protests calling on the Egyptian authorities to allow the entry of the foreign activists.


Ali Waked, AFP and The Associated Press contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 01.06.10, 14:44
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