Tags: Israel News, George Galloway
Egyptian security forces clashed on Wednesday with members of a convoy led by left-wing British politician George Galloway trying to take relief supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip.
A Reuters correspondent in the port city of Arish, 40 km (25 miles) from Egypt’s border with Gaza, saw security forces throwing stones at about 520 people traveling with the convoy.
The protestors were holding four members of the Arish harbor police while security forces detained seven members of the convoy, who have been locked in a dispute with Egyptian authorities over the route of the 198 trucks.
Police used water cannon to force the protestors to leave Arish harbor, which they had occupied, a security source said. Around 40 members of the convoy had minor injuries while around 15 police officials were hurt, witnesses said.
Cairo insists the food and other supplies should go to Gaza via an Israeli-controlled checkpoint while the convoy’s leaders want to use the Egyptian-controlled Rafah border crossing.
Egyptian authorities wanted 55 of the trucks to go to the Israeli checkpoint, said Galloway, the sole member of the British parliament for the Respect party who has long campaigned for the Palestinian cause.
“We refused this,” he told Reuters TV. “It is completely unconscionable that 25 percent of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza. Because nothing that ever goes to Israel, ever arrives in Gaza.”
Cairo has imposed strict regulations and restrictions on pro-Palestinian foreign activists who have held protests in Egypt since late December to mark the first anniversary of Israel’s three-week offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
It has also controlled the movement of Palestinians and some foreigners at Rafah and is building a controversial steel wall along its border with Gaza to prevent smuggling.
Alhamy Aref, a local government official in North Sinai, was trying to negotiate a deal between the two sides on releasing the detained people, the Reuters correspondent reported.
Leaders of the convoy originally refused Egypt’s condition that the aid should be shipped via Arish on the Mediterranean rather than via the Red Sea port of Nuweiba. But they later relented and started arriving at Arish on Thursday
al jazeera english : Egypt barred some of the vehicles in the aid convoy from passing through the Rafah crossing [Reuters]
At least 55 people have been injured in clashes between Egyptian police and pro-Palestinian activists who were trying to deliver aid into the Gaza Strip, eyewitnesses say.
Some 520 activists broke down the gate at the port in El-Arish late on Tuesday in protest against an Egyptian decision to ship some of the goods through Israel, medical workers and protesters said.
The protests were sparked by an Egyptian decision to allow 139 vehicles to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, about 45km from the port in al-Arish, but requiring a remaining 59 vehicles to pass via Israel.
Around 40 members of the convoy had minor injuries while over a dozen policemen were hurt in the clashes with protesters, who also blocked the two entrances to the Sinai port with vehicles, medical workers said.
The Viva Palestina convoy, led by George Galloway, the outspoken British MP, had already been delayed by more than a week, after he and a delegation of Turkish MPs failed to persuade the Egyptians to change their mind.
The convoy of nearly 200 vehicles arrived in al-Arish on Monday after a dispute with Cairo on the route.
But the arrival came after a bitter dispute between its organisers and the government, which banned the convoy from entering Egypt’s Sinai from Jordan by ferry, forcing it to drive north to the Syrian port of Lattakia.
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The convoy with 210 lorries full of medicine and other supplies set out from the UK nearly a month ago.
Israel and Egypt have severely restricted travel to and from the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized power there in June 2007, after winning Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
The blockade currrently allows only very basic supplies into Gaza.
The siege has severely restricted essential supplies and placed Gazans in a dire situation, made worse by Israel’s military assault last winter that reduced much of the territory to ruins.
In other Gaza-related news, a Palestinian fighter was reportedly killed and four others wounded in an Israeli air attack on Tuesday in the city of Khan Younis, according to a security source.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said Israel had launched the raid against fighters “planning to fire rockets at southern Israel”.
The armed wing of a group called the Popular Resistance Committee said its members had been targeted by the attack.
(UKPA) – 49 minutes ago
British members of a humanitarian convoy trying to take aid to Gaza were among dozens of people injured during clashes with Egyptian police.
Around 520 people were travelling with the 150 trucks full of supplies when clashes broke out Tuesday night at the port city of El Arish, near Gaza.
One of the members, Alexandra Lort-Phillips, 37, who works for Enfield Youth Offending Service in north London, said: “I have 42 people in my team, and out of those three Britons have been injured. There are head injuries, cuts.
“We started getting pelted with stones by people in plain clothes, then the police started moving in, using tear gas and batons. People were quite severely beaten.”
She said seven or eight of the convoy members had to be treated in hospital, and blamed “heavy-handed” policing of their group.
Protests reportedly broke out when Egyptian authorities at El Arish ordered some lorries to use an Israeli-controlled checkpoint.
The activists would prefer the goods to be transported via Egypt’s Rafah crossing.
British MP George Galloway, leading the convoy, said Israel is likely to prevent it entering Gaza.
He told Sky News: “It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza.”
Earlier this week convoy members staged noisy protests after Egyptian officials took away their passports and there was a lengthy delay in giving them back.
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Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469
By BRIAN ENO
It’s a tragedy that the Israelis – a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression – are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked “Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it’s the Palestinians”. By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they’ve forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians – with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers – and themselves – with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world – they sacrifice all credibility.
The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.
Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly…and, surprise, surprise – they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?
Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now ‘under attack’ you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn’t possibly reach an accommodation.
And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.
Brian Eno is a musician and music producer.
“From Viva Palestina: Our situation is now at a crisis point! Riot has broken out in the port of Al- Arish. This late afternoon we were negotiating with a senior official from Cairo who left negotiations some two hours ago and did not return. Our negotiations with the official was regarding taking our aid vehicles into …Gaza. He left two hours ago and did not come back. Egyptian authorities called over 2,000 riot police who then moved towards our camp at the port. We have now blocked the entrance to the port and we are now faced with riot police and water cannons and are determined to defend our vehicles and aid. The Egyptian authorities have by their stubbornness and hostility towards the convoy, brought us to a crisis point. We are now calling upon all friends of palestine to mount protests in person where possible, but by any means available to Egyptian representatives, consulates and Embassy’s and demand that the convoy are allowed a safe passage into Gaza tomorrow! It is also important that you contact whatever media outlet in your region to inform them of this event and to push your local politicians to act.”