Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1207, (24 - 30 July 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Second convoy planned

Popular aid convoys to Gaza will not stop despite this week’s refusal to allow them to cross at Rafah, reports Ahmed Morsy

Al-Ahram Weekly

“Another humanitarian aid convoy will head towards Gaza soon,” announced former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, one of the organisers of the aid convoy which the army prevented from entering Gaza on Saturday, during a press conference outside the Downtown headquarters of the Press Syndicate a few hours after the ban.  The convoy was forced to turn back at a military checkpoint in North Sinai, 150km from the Rafah Border.

The convoy, which included 11 buses carrying 500 people, was scheduled to deliver food and medical supplies to besieged Palestinians who on Tuesday were facing the 15th day of Israel’s brutal military onslaught.

“The convoy obtained all the permits it needed from the ministries of foreign affairs and health and from General and Military Intelligence. The Armed Forces and Interior Ministry were informed, from the first minute, of the convoy’s contents and route,” said Ali.

The popular convoy was organised by political groups and independent activists, including 6 April Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Strong Egypt and Dostour Parties. The convoy, according to activist Mohamed Waked, was intended to “show support to the people of Palestine from the people of Egypt” and press for “a lifting of the blockade on Gaza Strip and the opening of the Rafah border crossing”.

Slogans condemning Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi were shouted during the conference.

According to participants’ accounts the convoy faced no security restrictions from Cairo to the Balouza checkpoint in Arish where the convoy was blocked.  Journalist Tamer Abu Arab posted on Facebook that the convoy had waited for two hours at Balouza checkpoint before the organisers were asked to return to Cairo. The military said it was unable to secure the supplies along the rest of its route to the embattled Gaza Strip.

“The organisers tried to negotiate and offered to sign papers acknowledging they took responsibility for their own safety but the military officer said the convoy had ten minutes to leave or it would be forcibly dispersed,” Arab wrote.

When the participants protested, Ali asked for more time to convince convoy members of the decision. The officer then ordered the convoy to leave immediately, cancelling the ten-minute grace period. 

When some convoy members decided to stage a sit-in by the checkpoint, “security forces raised their guns at them” according to Tarek Al-Awadi, a member of the Popular Committee to Support the Palestinians’ Uprising.

Medical personnel accompanying the convoy were also turned back.

“It is shocking,” former MP Mustafa Al-Naggar, one of the organisers, told Al-Ahram Weekly. “We wanted to cross the border to deliver a political message showing the solidarity of the Egyptian people with the Palestinians as they face continued Israeli aggression.”

“The campaign rejects the prevention of its convoys from passing to Gaza,” said Al-Awadi in a statement issued on Saturday afternoon. He added that it was illogical for the state to claim that it was preventing the support convoy from entering Gaza because of concern over the safety of convoy members when the army itself threatened participants with weapons and detention.

“Preventing the crossing of the convoy reveals the true face of a regime opposed to the popular and revolutionary rejection of the siege on Gaza,” concluded the statement.

On Monday the Popular Committee to Support the Palestinians announced a second aid convoy would leave within days. According to Al-Naggar it is scheduled to depart on Wednesday.

“It’s mainly a medicinal convoy with donations from Egyptians to their brothers in Palestine. The value of the contributions is more than LE2 million,” says the committee.

A press conference was called last week by political forces in Cairo to affirm their support of the Palestinian resistance and voice disapproval over the truce suggested by Egypt.

“The press conference today represents the true popular position in Egypt, not the disappointing proposal that accused resistance forces in Palestine of practicing counter-violence and which equated them with Israel,” said Zizo Abdo, spokesman of the Committee to Defend the Aggrieved and of the Journalists’ Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee.

Amr Hamzawi, Head of the Egypt Freedom Party, said  that “instead of holding talks with Israel, which has never refrained from attacking Palestinians, the priority should be the immediate and unconditional opening of the Rafah crossing, the closure of which worsens the Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave”.

“The rulers of Egypt must open the crossing which has exposed Palestinians in Gaza to a slow death, compounding their murder at the hands of Israel,” he added. “The truth is clear. There is an Israeli assault and there are Palestinian victims.”

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