CAIRO: The Viva Palestina convoy intended for the Gaza Strip finally docked in the port of Al-Arish some 40 km away from the Rafah border crossing after a protracted delay due to a disagreement over its appropriate landing destination between convoy members and the Egyptian government.
The Lifeline 3 convoy – comprising some 150 vehicles – was transported via cargo ship to the port of Al-Arish, after the convoy acquiesced to the Egyptian government demands that they dock there, not at the port of Nuweiba.
The convoy was unloaded amid heavy security presence, there were still many of the 528 convoy members from 17 different countries who were due to arrive to Al-Arish Sunday by air from Lattakia in Syria.
The heavy security presence was because the authorities did not want any demonstrations or processions taking place around the convoy, according to North Sinai Tagammu party member Khalil Jabr Sawarkeh.
“They want it to get to Gaza with minimal fanfare, he told Daily News Egypt, “and they will probably let them enter Rafah during the night to limit any involvement from people in the area.
Members will continue to be flown in until early Tuesday morning and the convoy hopes to enter Gaza via the Rafah border crossing on that very same morning.
The convoy is carrying over $1 million worth of aid intended for Gaza and had hoped to enter on the one-year anniversary of the Israeli offensive on Gaza in late December.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian foreign ministry launched a scathing attack on convoy leader British Respect MP George Galloway, claiming that his comments regarding the hold up of the convoy defied “honesty and facts.
“Being aware that Mr. Galloway loves media exposure, for various reasons, the ministry refrains from engaging in media arguments with someone who deliberately changes facts for personal objectives and masters the promotion of false championships that are based on wrong impressions leading to wrong conclusions, it said.
In a fact sheet disseminated by Egypt’s State Information Service, the authorities said that the foreign ministry had sent at least four messages to Mr. Galloway starting Dec. 10, 2009, briefing him on “the Egyptian mechanism for receiving relief assistance convoys to the Gaza Strip, through its London embassy, but that they were all ignored.