Egypt rebuffs Entry to Gaza Convoy through Red Sea Port
Local Editor, 25-12-2009
Around 250 trucks laden with European, Turkish and Arab aid - both food and medical supplies left the Jordanian capital on Thursday on the next leg of its planned journey to the Gaza Strip yet Egypt hadn't grant approval for the final leg into the blockaded enclave.
The convoy led by British MP George Galloway will not be permitted into Egypt through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba - the most direct route - Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman said.
Hossam Zaki told AFP that there will be "no entry from Nuweiba, Entry can only be through El-Arish."
The aid convoy arrived in Jordan from Syria on Wednesday and was headed to the Red Sea port of Aqaba for the ferry journey across to the Egyptian Sinai port of Nuweiba.
Entering through El-Arish port would mean going around the Sinai Peninsula and through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.
Commenting on this issue, the foreign ministry said: "The Egyptian government welcomes the passage of the convoy into the Gaza Strip on December 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."
Egypt's Rafah crossing with Gaza is the only access point into the Palestinian land that bypasses the occupied territories.
British MP George Galloway had issued a statement urging Egypt to facilitate the convoy's passage.
"Israel" controls about two-thirds of Gaza's border; the remaining third is its border with Egypt. Building materials could be imported into Gaza at the Rafah crossing into Egypt, if Egypt were willing to allow it. However, Egypt exercises just as severe a blockade as "Israel".
"Israel" and Egypt have severely restricted travel to and from the Gaza Strip since June 2007.