CAIRO: Egypt has continued to refuse permission for the Gaza aid convoy headed by British MP George Galloway to dock in the port of Nuweiba, insisting that it must head by sea to the port at the city of Al-Arish.
The third edition of the Viva Palestina convoy, named Lifeline 3, is currently in Jordan at the Gulf of Aqaba, having arrived there last Tuesday. The convoy consists of some 210 vehicles laden with aid for Gaza, accompanied by some 500 activists, including 150 from Turkey, 30 form the US and a number from Europe.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told AFP that there would be “no entry from Nuweiba. Entry can only be through El-Arish. Additionally, a foreign ministry statement said, “The Egyptian government welcomes the passage of the convoy into the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, on condition that it abides by the mechanisms in place for humanitarian aid convoys to the Palestinian people, including most importantly the entry of convoys through the port of El-Arish.
Zaki also said in press statements Friday that the “media circus surrounding the entry of the convoy was “unjustifiably contrived , because Egypt had been clear form the start regarding its approval of the convoy’s entry, but through the correct channels for the transport of humanitarian relief.
For the convoy to travel to Al-Arish as opposed to Nuweiba, it would need to travel all around the Sinai peninsula and up through the Suez Canal, instead of just travelling across the Gulf of Aqaba to dock in the port of Nuweiba.
Galloway was critical of the Egyptian government for refusing entry to Nuweiba in an interview with Press TV, saying, “We are very sad not yet angry, but we will get angry if the days go by.
The MP also alluded to a possible diplomatic spat between Turkey and Egypt as a result of the refusal to allow the convoy into Sinai.
“It’s a very complex situation. We have on the Turkish level quite a diplomatic activity going on, because the Turkish prime minister personally appeared on live television in Damascus three days ago and asked the Egyptian government to facilitate this convoy; so this is a slap in the face, you can say, to the Turkish government, he said.
“We don’t yet know exactly what tactics we will follow. That would depend on the diplomatic situation, but one thing we are not going to do is run away. We came all this way to Aqaba, he added.
Ever since the Israeli offensive on Gaza earlier in the year which led to the death of 1,400 Palestinians (including 400 children and 200 women) and the injury of another 5,000, the Viva Palestina convoys have travelled across the globe to transport aid, food and medical supplies to people in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza has been under a blockade for two and a half years, since Hamas took control of the territory.