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'Miles of Smiles' aid convoy denied entry to Gaza

Jan. 5, 2014 2:32 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2014 6:29 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities refused to allow an aid convoy headed for Gaza through the Rafah crossing, an activist committee said.

A humanitarian aid convoy entitled "Miles of Smiles 24" was prevented from entering the coastal enclave despite special arrangements made previously with Egyptian authorities to enter on Saturday, deputy manager of a Gaza government committee against the siege Alaa al-Battah told Ma'an.

Al-Battah highlighted that the convoy was carrying humanitarian aid, including medicines and accommodation equipment, for Gaza residents who suffered serious property damages during the winter storm Alexa which hit the area in December.

The aid is accompanied by a convoy of 127 solidarity activists from Arab and European countries including Jordan, Algeria, Malaysia, UK, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Bahrain, among many others.

There have been frequent closures of the Rafah terminal in recent months due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai peninsula.

The Rafah crossing has been the principal connection between Gaza's 1.7 million residents and the outside world since the imposition of an economic blockade by Israel beginning in 2006-7.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.

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