CAIRO: Members of the second Viva Palestina aid convoy were scheduled to return to Egypt Thursday from Gaza after having entered the besieged territory with medical aid and ambulances.
The convoy, comprising some 200 Americans and led by British Respect Party MP George Galloway, entered Gaza Wednesday evening through the Rafah border crossing after five days of delays and obstacles.
And while aid for Palestinians in Gaza was finally allowed through the Rafah gate, Palestinians themselves were turned away according to the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border, which has maintained a constant presence at the gate for over a month.
“Egyptian police pushed Palestinian families away from the Rafah border and denied them [entry] into Gaza, the group said in an email.
Galloway told assembled reporters at the Gazan entrance of the crossing, “The silence of the world is deafening as the people of Gaza suffer, but the 200 Americans and over $1 million worth of aide that is going through confirms our commitment to a free Palestine.
He also directed a comment to US President Barack Obama, saying, “We are saying to President Obama, the world is looking. The situation in Palestine is intolerable. You have to stop this. That means you have to take action because actions speak louder than words.
Not all of the convoy’s vehicles were permitted entry into Gaza through the crossing, with some stowed away in Alexandria. The convoy entered with 11 trucks filled with medical supplies and two ambulances.
Only medical aid for Gaza is allowed through the Rafah crossing, with other types of aid only permitted entry through Al-Oja crossing, which is Israeli-controlled. The Viva Palestina convoy refuses to send aid to Gaza through Al-Oja.
“We are missing more than one-half [of the vehicles], Galloway said, “These vehicles are desperately needed. And I’m here to tell you they will be delivered one way or another.
The convoy had complained about a number of obstacles it faced in Egypt when attempting to reach Rafah. In a statement they released last Sunday the group detailed “a series of obstacles and frustrating delay tactics erected against this humanitarian mission and aid convoy. On Thursday, two busloads of drivers were denied access in Alexandria to the 47 new vehicles intended to carry our medical supplies into Gaza. The drivers remain stranded in the port city to this day.
Convoy participant Rev. Werner Lange said in the statement, “These obstacles only serve to perpetuate the suffering of the Palestinians and enhance the determination of Viva Palestina participants to do all we can to alleviate the suffering and end the blockade.
“The delay tactics also contradict the sentiment and statements of President Obama given in Cairo a mere month ago, he added.
Viva Palestina aim to send another convoy to Gaza in October.