Thursday, October 7, 2010

(NEWS) Egypt Gives Conditions For Entry Of International Gaza-Bound Aid

"Egypt said Wednesday that it presented the organisers of a Gaza-bound aid convoy with five conditions for allowing their ship to dock in Egyptian waters and for delivering the aid to Gaza.

The Egyptian ambassador in Syria met with the organisers of Viva Palestina 5 capital of Damascus to lay out Egypt's conditions for the entry of the aid, said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossam Zaky.

The ambassador informed the activists of measures which should be taken in order to facilitate the ship's docking at the Egyptian port of el-Arish and the subsequent entry of the aid into Gaza over land, Zaky said.

He did not specify what the conditions were.

The Viva Palestina activists, led by British parliament George Galloway, are expected to depart from the Syrian port of Latakia in the coming few days.

Viva Palestina is a group of international activists working to break the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to deliver humanitarian aid to its residents.

Last January, Egyptian security clashed with both Viva Palestina activists as well as Palestinians on the Gaza side of the border after a standoff over allowing the activists and their aid shipment into the Strip.

They were eventually granted entry, but Galloway was told by authorities upon his departure from Egypt that he would not be permitted back into the country.

It is unclear whether Egypt has changed its position regarding allowing the British politician entry into the country.

Egypt and Israel tightened the blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

The Egyptian government has faced domestic and regional criticism for its partial blockade on Gaza. However, after Israel violently prevented an aid flotilla from reaching Gaza, Egypt lifted some of the restrictions at its Rafah border crossing, allowing entry to Palestinians needing medical attention, and pilgrims.

For its part, Israel maintains an air and naval blockade on the Strip, in addition to tightly controlling the movement of goods in and out of the area via land crossings." (source)

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