'Viva Palestina' activists denied entry to Egypt
Fri, 06 Mar 2009
Four activists, heading for Gaza with humanitarian aid convoy 'Viva
Palestina', have been returned to Libya short after crossing into Egypt.
The convoy of some 100 vehicles carrying one million pounds worth of
humanitarian aid departed from Britain on February 14 and is to enter
the impoverished Palestinian territory via Rafah in Egypt.
The four were identified as Stephen Gray, Richard Burton, Shams Suppin
Razaq and Azam Hussein.
Press TV's correspondent Yvonne Ridley, who is accompanying 'Viva
Palestina', said a lawyer was to contact the British Foreign Office to
find out why the four were deported Egypt.
"The Egyptian authorities have not come up with an explanation as to why
these men should be separated from the convoy. There is a feeling that
they could mere political pawns in a much wider game is being played out
in Egypt at the moment with Libya, Egypt and Israel," she said.
"Israel is putting huge pressure on Egypt to force the convoy which is
now doubled in size, a British-Libyan venture, through Israeli
She added that the convoy was warmly welcomed on the surface by the
Egyptian authorities, local dignitaries and officials, but its movement
was at the same time severely restricted due to a large number of police
vehicles and officers involved in the operation of moving 'Viva
Palestina' to Rafah.
Meanwhile, the convoy has been asked to move in groups of twenty, which
has further reduced its speed.
'Viva Palestina' -- organized by British Parliamentarian George Galloway
-- has passed through France, Spain and a number of North African
countries on its way to the food and energy hungry Gaza Strip, where
thousands of Palestinians have long been dependent on aid handouts.
Israel refuses to lift a 19-month-long blockade on the coastal sliver to
force to its knees the Islamic Hamas movement which controls the
The siege continues almost a month after the Israeli army lunched an
all-out onslaught on Gaza in a bid to oust Hamas and put an end to
Palestinian rocket attacks, which usually leave little damage but have
drawn bitter criticism from the Tel Aviv officials.
The 23-day offensive left at least 1,330 Palestinians killed, more than
5,450 others injured and widely devastated the infrastructures in the
densely populated Gaza Strip, home to some 1.5 people.
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