Lifeline Convoy Faces Violent Clashes on Way to Gaza

Lifeline Convoy Faces Violent Clashes on Way to Gaza

Cairo:  The “Lifeline” convoy organized by “Viva Palestina” and headed by the prominent British MP George Galloway began moving from the Port of El Arish to the Rafah crossing on its way to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after a long day of clashes between the organizers of the Convoy and Egyptian security services.

The convoy which was transporting humanitarian aid to the Palestinians  included 158 vehicles carrying humanitarian aid, medicine and medical equipment.

Egypt decided to close the Rafah crossing on Thursday after the convoy passed through the crossing on Wednesday on its way to the Gaza Strip.

This came after clashes broke out between a number of the organizers of the convoy and Egyptian security in El Arish port on Tuesday night. Dozens of Palestinians threw stones at Egyptian security while Hamas leaders denounced what they considered, “an attack on the members of the convoy.”

The clashes involved Palestinian militants firing on the Egyptian police at the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip killing one Egyptian policeman and wounding nine others. Dozens of Palestinians were also injured in the clashes during a demonstration organized by the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas.

Violence broke out on Wednesday afternoon on the Egyptian border, after some Palestinian demonstrators and supporters of the convoy threw stones and shot at the Egyptian security, leaving 17 Egyptian police officers wounded and killing one officer from Beni-Sueif named Ahmed Shaaban.

The Egyptian security authorities arrested 7 of the participants in these events from different nationalities, including one American, two Turks, two Britons, a Malaysian and a Kuwaiti, and referred them to the prosecutor for investigations.

55 people were injured on Tuesday evening in the city of El Arish, 50 miles from the border with Gaza, in clashes between Egyptian police and pro-Palestinian activists involved in the ”Lifeline” convoy.

The convoy, carrying aid to the Gaza Strip, arrived Monday in El Arish, but did not move into Gaza because of differences between the organizers and the authorities which refused to allow the 59 trucks to enter.

An Egyptian security source in Rafah said late yesterday that the cars in the convoy started out successively in groups on their way to El Arish after an agreement between the Egyptian authorities and regulators to keep 40 vehicles in El Arish until a further agreement on passage through the crossing could be reached.