CAIRO: The Gaza aid convoy, the Lifeline 5, said its departure to Egypt from the Latakkia Port in Syria has been further delayed due to more complications with authorities without giving further details.
“The captain of the ship sold out [at the] last minute,” said Asif Bhayat, a volunteer pilot in the aid convoy who also provides extensive coverage of the convoy’s progress on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter to keep both the public and the donors well informed.
“We haven’t sailed and have unloaded our sleeping bags for at least another night. The battle to break the will of the convoy is launched in earnest by those who seek for our mission to fail, and we appreciate what we are up against to break the … siege … on Gaza. In the face of it, we embrace patience and stand united.”
The Viva Palestina charity organization, led by former British MP George Galloway, departed from London on the Lifeline 5 on Sept. 18 to deliver aid and various supplies for the ailing Gaza Strip. It was originally supposed to leave the Syrian port of Latakkia and arrive at the port of El-Arish, in Sinai, Egypt. From there the convoy would proceed to the Rafah border to enter the Gaza Strip in early October.
This plan was delayed, however, after the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not grant the convoy permission to enter the Gaza Strip via Egyptian borders.
But after a two-week-long halt, the Egyptian authorities finally granted the Lifeline 5 the sought-after permission. It was scheduled to sail towards Egypt at 1 pm on Monday, Oct. 18.
According to Viva Palestina’s website, also the official website for the aid convoy, Lifeline 5 negotiators are in intensive discussions with Egyptian officials to try to resolve any and all bureaucratic formalities that are delaying the endeavor.
“The Israeli Defense Force has been making threatening noises concerning the ‘flotilla,’ which we assume means the boats ferrying the convoy to the Egyptian port of Al Arish,” said Viva Palestina’s website. “Convoy leaders reiterated [that] they would not be deterred by any Israeli threats and [that they] intend to ensure the safe transportation of the medical aid to Gaza via Egypt and the Rafah Crossing at the earliest opportunity.”
Forty participants of the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla, which was raided by the Israeli military last May killing nine Turkish activists, are currently on board the Lifeline 5.