An aid convoy that has travelled over 3500km to deliver vital
medical and food supplies to the Gaza Strip is currently stranded
because of Egypt's refusal to grant it easy passage, reports the Al
According to the leading Middle East media giant, the Viva Palestina
convoy, made up of almost 250 lorries, remained in the Jordanian
port of Aqaba on Saturday, having waited over 48 hours to board
ferries for the Egyptian Red Sea port of Nuweiba.
But Egypt has so far
insisted that the aid be delivered through its Mediterranean port of
El-Arish, a much longer journey that would require the convoy to go
around the Sinai peninsula and through the Suez Canal.
George Galloway, a British politician leading the convoy, on
Saturday appealed to Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, to allow
the lorries through before medical and food supplies were ruined by
"Please President Mubarak - let us
resolve this matter. We can only sail through Nuweiba. We are only
four hours away from Gaza," Galloway told Al Jazeera.
"We have this aid, and the people of Gaza need it on the anniversary
on the 27th December - a year after Israel's 22-day bombardment of
the beseiged Palestinian territory.
"All fingers should be pointing at Israel, not getting confused and
pointing at Egypt", Galloway said.
But Maged Botros, a member of Egypt's ruling National Democratic
Party, told Al Jazeera that the government in Cairo has every right
to specify the port by which Viva Palestina enters its territory.
"We are talking about 250 trucks passing along this critical
territory [the Israeli-Egyptian border] - it is technically so
difficult to allow.
"There are good reasons not to allow them through Nuweiba ... these
trucks might create a big infiltration problem for Egyptian security
forces", he said.
But convoy members told Al Jazeera that travelling through the Suez
was not a viable option, as passengers are not allowed to go with
cargo ships and that the port of El-Arish is too shallow to take the
size of ship needed to transport the aid.
Zuber Hatia, who has driven thousands of kilometres from the British
city of Portsmouth, said there was a symbolic reason why Viva
Palestina cannot make the extra long journey to El-Arish.
"We are only a four hour ferry ride and a four hour drive from Gaza
- we have to be there by 11:35am on 27th December - the first
anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza", Hatia said.
"So though we have all the cargo manifests, we have to just sit,
wait and hope. Unfortunately, the Egyptians I have spoken to say
this is a 'political aid convoy' rather than a humanitarian aid
convoy - and that makes all the difference," Hatia said.
"And though the Jordanians are being very kind to us while we wait,
the fact is our trucks are impounded in a car park 30km from the
port with tonnes of medicines spoiling in this Middle Eastern heat.
"Please Mubarak, let our people go!", Hatia said.