Viva Palestina convoy heading to Rafah

Viva Palestina convoy heading to Rafah

After a battle between Egyptian riot police and convoy members in Al-Arish last night, the convoy finally started out on the last leg of its journey a couple of hours ago:

“Vehicles very slowly exiting port gates now, heading to Rafah, insyaAllah.” – juanajaafar

An Egyptian border guard was shot dead Wednesday and about 55 people were injured late Tuesday in clashes between Egyptian police and pro-Palestinian activists trying to get a relief convoy into the Gaza Strip, militants, medics and officials said.

Some 520 activists belonging to the convoy – led by charismatic and outspoken British MP George Galloway – broke down the gate at El-Arish to protest an Egyptian decision to ship some of the goods through Israel.

They blocked the two entrances to the Sinai port with vehicles, and clashed with police. Forty militants were injured, a source close to them said, while medical sources said 15 policemen were also hurt.

An Egyptian official said Wednesday that the border guard was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper while Gazan youths hurled stones across the border at the Egyptian security forces.

The protests were sparked by an Egyptian decision to allow 139 vehicles to enter Gaza through the Rafah bordering crossing, about 45 kilometers from El-Arish, but requiring a remaining 59 vehicles to pass via Israel. Talks in which Galloway and a delegation of Turkish MPs sought to change the Egyptian’s minds proved unsuccessful. — Hurriyet Daily News

At the beginning, it was a peaceful protest, singing and making noise. The Egyptians were there to be provoked, no doubt, but they needed a reason. This went on for about 1 hour 30 mins, and then all hell broke loose. I don’t know who threw the first stone but the Egyptians seemed to have prepared stones to be thrown. A running battle went on for about 30 minutes, mainly the Egyptians hurtling stones at us. Some people fought back with stones and sticks against the riot police with batons. Five seasoned Derry men stood at the back. Ole hands at these riots.

The end result was up to 20 people injured, head injuries and even worse it appears. There was news that the Turks had captured 3 Egyptians police as hostages but they were later released. There was a deadly atmosphere amongst the compound. This wasn’t the way it was suppose to work out, we should of been heading for Gaza. At this point, it’s too early to see where the blame lies.

Galloway made his way onto the stage, looking very shaken and holding prayer beads, he recalled the progression of events that I have just told, and once again, encouraged people to protest throughout the world against the Egyptians. He said we wouldn’t be going anywhere soon’. We went to bed after that.

So another massive change of events, and I think the whole thing has had a negative rather than positive effect on proceedings. A lot of people think this way and I could see a lot of people going home. — Derry to Gaza

“Galloway challenged in open convoy mtg to resign leadership!” — zhat

Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) on Wednesday condemned Egypt’s alleged assault on members of the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy in the Egyptian port of El Arish.

“The attack by the Egyptian authorities on the Viva Palestina convoy late Tuesday is heinous and cruel. We condemn the assault on the convoy members who seek to break the siege imposed on Gaza and such behaviors do not reflect the history of Egypt,” the IAF, the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement posted on its website. — Xinhua

In Istanbul, thousands of protesters staged a demonstration to condemn the Egyptian police crackdown on the Gaza-bound aid convoy. The protestors marched towards the Egyptian Consulate in the Turkish capital and held a picture of assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah and a picture titled “the picture of betrayal”, showing Egyptian President Hosni Muabark shaking hands with former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Tuesday’s demonstration joined a wave of protests against Mubarak across the Arab world. The Hamas organization in Gaza called on Palestinians on Wednesday morning to stage protests calling on the Egyptian authorities to allow the entry of the foreign activists. — Ynet

An Egyptian soldier was killed and four Palestinians were wounded in a gunbattle on Wednesday during a protest against an anti-smuggling wall Cairo is building on the Gaza border. — Reuters

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