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Egypt: No more aid convoys through Rafah

Jan. 9, 2010 9:46 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 11, 2010 9:08 A.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an/Agencies - Egyptian authorities will set a new mechanism for shipping international aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, following anger over recent aid convoys for Gaza, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit told Egyptian news sources Friday.

The new mechanism requires all aid for delivery to the Gaza Strip to be handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent at the Al-Arish terminal. The aid will be processed by the Red Crescent and handed over to the Palestinian Red Crescent in Gaza following an inventory, Abu Al-Gheit explained in the Egyptian paper Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat.

The decision came after riots broke out at the Rafah border when a convoy of international activists staged a demonstration calling on Egyptian officials to open the Gaza border and allow 500 Gaza supporters and 220 vans of aid into the besieged Strip. The demonstration, joined by Hamas supporters on the Gaza side of the border, broke out into violence and lead to the shooting death of an Egyptian soldier.

Egyptian security forces in Cairo struggled earlier in the week with a second delegation of internationals who arrived in Cairo hoping to carry out a Freedom March in Gaza on New Years Eve. The more than 1,300 supporters were denied entry into Gaza, and a series of protests organized in Egypt were quashed. Egyptian law prohibits public gatherings of more than six people.

Egypt's foreign minister commented to the press, saying the issue of the Palestinian question is more than aid and crossings, particularly at Rafah. He said the issue was much larger, noting the inter-Palestinian rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, and was being trivialized by recent events.
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