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Following clashes, convoy enters Gaza
Published Wednesday 06/01/2010 (updated) 07/01/2010 14:58
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Egyptian police along the Gaza border [MaanImages]
Gaza – Ma’an – Medical aid and 518 activists entered Gaza Wednesday night after protests against the Egyptian government refusal to admit 400 of the group lead to clashes along the divided border town.

An Egyptian soldier was shot dead during the clashes, Egyptian state television reported, and at least 12 Palestinians were injured during a a demonstration against perceived Egyptian complicity in an Israeli-led blockade called by the de facto government of the Strip as they denounced what they said were attacks on the Viva Palestina convoy.

Following the demonstration, some 50 people broke away from the crowd of hundreds, pelting Egyptian troops with stones.

The soldiers opened fire on the crowd, wounding two people, according to medics. Ten people were also hurt in a stampede of protesters fleeing the gunfire. Ambulances raced to the scene to retrieve the wounded.

A Ma’an reporter saw Hamas security officers moving in on pickup trucks, forming a cordon in between the protesters and the border. The officers ordered the protesters to disperse through loudspeakers, warning that provocateurs were trying to escalate the protest into a clash with Egypt.

Egyptian security sources told Ma’an in Al-Arish that a state of alert was declared on the border, and hundreds of troops were sent to the area known as Salah Ad-Din.

Activists, Medical Aid enter Gaza

Despite the violence, Egyptian officials opened the Rafah border for the convoy, allowing dozens of vehicles, activists and medical aid into the Gaza Strip. Organizers said in a statement following the entry that the group was met by large crowds.

The 220 trucks and ambulances, filled with tons of medical aid, will be handed over to Gaza hospitals. Convoy spokeswoman Alice Howard said the convoy members were given 48-hour permits for Gaza.

Egypt-Convoy tension

On Tuesday night more than 50 international activists were wounded in clashes with riot police in the Egyptian port town of Al-Arish, some 40 kilometers from Gaza. Police threw stones and trained water cannons on more than 500 members of the Viva Palestina convoy, including British MP George Galloway.

Members of the convoy said they blocked the entrance to the Al-Arish port when the Egyptian government demanded that some vehicles of the convoy enter Gaza through an Israeli checkpoint.

British MP George Galloway, who was travelling with the convoy, said Israel was likely to block the shipment of aid.

"It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza," Galloway told Reuters news agency.

Hamas angrily denounced the violence. “This attack shows that there is no Egyptian will to end blockade or even deliver aid to the besieged people in the Gaza Strip,” movement spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Israel sealed its borders with Gaza following Hamas’ June 2007 takeover of the territory, causing shortages of vital goods, including fuel and all but 36 types of food items. Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are also largely banned from travelling.

Egypt has come under fire recently for playing a role in the blockade, including building a steel wall along its border with Gaza to cut off smuggling tunnels dug to import goods made scarce by the siege. The wall has also strained relations between Hamas and Egypt.

Egypt however dismissed Hamas’ criticism on Tuesday.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Husam Zaki said Fawzi Barhoum’s comments “were sarcastic.”

He told the London-based Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, “Barhoum’s comments about Egyptian security violating sovereignty of 40 countries who have representatives in the Lifeline convoy mean that Barhoum has no idea about the meaning of sovereignty, and if he has any idea, I herby tell him that Egypt’s sovereignty is above all.”

“Does sovereignty mean demolishing the main gate of Al-Arish terminal? Or does it mean damaging platforms to use the tiles as stones to pelt them at Egyptian security?” Zaki said.

He added, “I am sure that if Egyptian authorities had allowed entry of the fancy private cars which are part of the convoy, he would have changed his mind. If these cars which will eventually serve the upper class in Gaza were allowed, he wouldn’t have said what he said.”
1 ) Carlos / USA
06/01/2010 16:12
Egypt Foriegn Minister comment irrelevent. Governement of Egypt is helping to starve the Gazans. The government of Egypt should let the aid through. Mubarak is the problem.

2 ) Abu TRD / Palestine
06/01/2010 17:26
This isn't aid, this is propaganda. Stop playing games and ship the aid through approved channels. Respect.

3 ) ricardo / usa
06/01/2010 18:51
The goals are clear: to provide some needed aid (medicines, education materials, transportation) and to expose, publicize and help bring about the end of the gaza blockade. To the extent that Egypt is a collaborator in the blockade and occupation, Egypt has been exposed. What could be more sad, ironic and revealing than Mubarak meeting with Netanyahu last week as Gaza Freedom March was being suppressed.

4 ) Hakim / Dubai
06/01/2010 19:13
Even if it is "Aid" like always it will turn into missiles !! If we should pitty the palestinians why don't they denouce violence and the targeting of innocent people. I can't pitty them when they carry out murderous attacks sorry !!

5 ) Assad / USA
06/01/2010 23:35
#2 abu trd (nice alias) how is the weather in tel aviv? #4 hakim its hard to believe anyone from dubai could be so mis-informed, so i must ask you how is the weather in haifa?

6 ) Maureen / Austrailia
07/01/2010 00:17
Mubarak, the Zionist puppet provocateur, is the problem! By preventing aid to reach people in need in Gaza, he is a partner to Zionist crime against humanity!

7 ) Carlos / USA
07/01/2010 01:29
Hakim/Dubai paid Israeli propogandist.

8 ) Rosemary / usa
07/01/2010 01:35
Anyone who thinks the Palestinians are the problem isn't paying attention. Israel has chosen expansion over security. An occupied people have the right to resist occupation.

9 ) Seamus O Meirain / Ireland
07/01/2010 02:48
Dont believe Hakim and Abu Trd exist

10 ) Asim Alavi / Sri Lanka
07/01/2010 02:55
Egyptians can show off their heroism only on weak Palestinians; You will never try your heroism with Israel. You are good at getting bribe from USA/Israel.

"Official channels" are at the hands of thieves, so aid will not reach the needy. Hakim has a beautiful lesson, can you please teach the barbaric Israelis !!

11 ) Niva dos Santos / Brasil
07/01/2010 05:25
Mubarak is a dictator. Egypt, against it's people wii, is the zions 5? column!! Shame...

12 ) Christopher / USA
07/01/2010 06:37
Hakim: And how does one turn food and basic medical supplies into missiles? How's that financial crisis over there in Dubai treating you, by the way?

13 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
07/01/2010 07:58
Hakim, let's give you a dose of reality. For every Israeli killed by a Palestinian, missile, gunfire, etc., in 2009, Israel killed 50-100 Palestinians. Whatever smuggled or brought-in aid is used mainly to help the people themselves. Pity them because they are kept under lock and key by a nation that continually steals their land, and the other countries are letting Israel get away with it.
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