Galloway in fresh Gaza convoy plea 27Dec09 December 28, 2009

Aljazeera -  27 December 2009


A British politician leading a convoy of medical and food supplies destined for the Gaza Strip has again appealed to Egypt to allow the group easy access to the coastal strip.

George Galloway urged the authorities on Sunday to grant the Viva Palestina convoy access to Gaza through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba.

“I am appealing to anyone and everyone to help us reach Gaza,” Galloway said.

“Our medicines are in a race against the time of their expiry date and are spoiling in the desert sun whilst people in Gaza die for the want of them.”

The convoy, which is made up of almost 250 lorries, remained in the Jordanian port of Aqaba on Sunday, while it awaits permission to board ferries for Nuweiba.

But Egypt has so far insisted that the aid be delivered through its Mediterranean port of El-Arish, a much longer journey that would require the convoy to go around the Sinai peninsula and through the Suez Canal.

‘Infiltration worry’

Maged Botros, a member of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party, told Al Jazeera that the government in Cairo has every right to specify the port by which Viva Palestina enters its territory.

“We are talking about 250 trucks passing along this critical territory [the Israeli-Egyptian border] – it is technically so difficult to allow.”There are good reasons not to allow them through Nuweiba … these trucks might create a big infiltration problem for Egyptian security forces”, he said.

But convoy members told Al Jazeera that travelling through the Suez was not a viable option, as passengers are not allowed to go with cargo ships and that the port of El-Arish is too shallow to take the size of ship needed to transport the aid.

Anniversary deadline

Zuber Hatia, who has driven thousands of kilometres from the British city of Portsmouth, said there was a symbolic reason why Viva Palestina cannot make the extra long journey to El-Arish.

He said members of the convoy had hoped to make it to Gaza by December 27 to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel’s war on Gaza.

“So though we have all the cargo manifests, we have to just sit, wait and hope,” Hatia said.

“Unfortunately, the Egyptians I have spoken to say this is a ‘political aid convoy’ rather than a humanitarian aid convoy – and that makes all the difference.

“And though the Jordanians are being very kind to us while we wait, the fact is our trucks are impounded in a car park 30km from the port with tonnes of medicines spoiling in this Middle Eastern heat.”

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