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23.10.10

'Viva Palestina' activists deliver tons of aid to Gaza Strip

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Haaretz | By Avi Issacharoff | 21.10.10


Most of the activists arrived at the Egyptian port El-Arish on flights from Syria, while just 30 activists made the journey with the aid supplies by ship.

Over 300 activists from Syrian aid flotilla "Viva Palestina" crossed Thursday the Egyptian Border into Gaza by land with tons of medical equipment and food supplies for the residents of the coastal enclave.

According to the organizers of the flotilla, which departed from the Syrian port of Latkia, activists transported products worth in excess of $5 million.

Most of the activists arrived at the Egyptian port El-Arish on flights from Syria, while just 30 activists made the journey with the aid supplies by ship.

Egyptian security services barred a Mauritania citizen who arrived with the group from crossing the border into Gaza and his passport was taken for inspection. While 12 Mauritania activists remained with him pending the inspection, the remaining activists crossed the land border with Gaza uneventfully.

Viva Palestina activists claimed the point of their aid flotilla was to "break the siege on Gaza" despite the fact that Israel recently lifted many of the restrictions imposed on the enclosed coastal strip.


International peace activist hold Palestinian flag as their aid convoy wait to cross in to Gaza at the Rafah border Crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010. The aid convoy arrived in the Gaza Strip overland from Egypt on Thursday to a warm welcome from the territory's Islamic militant, The convoy was organized by 'Viva Palestina,' headed by former British member of parliament George Galloway. Egypt banned Galloway from accompanying the convoy because of previous clashes with Egyptian security. Hamas official Ahmed Youssef said the aid is worth about $5 million and includes 137 used vehicles for ambulances and transport.

Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 after Hamas wrestled control over the territory in a violent coup.

During a visit to Syria on Tuesday, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter called for Israel to lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip. Carter made the remarks in the forum of a delegation known as The Elders, who met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hamas leaders in Syria.

"The blockade is one of the most serious human rights violations on Earth and it must be lifted fully," said Carter from Syria.

Besides Carter, the Elders delegation includes former Irish president Mary Robinson and former UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. While in Gaza, the group described Israel's blockade as an "illegal collective punishment" and "an impediment to peace."