British lawmaker and anti-war activist George Galloway says Egypt is using bureaucracy as a pretext to impede humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
Galloway and 449 other human rights activists who are part of the Viva Palestina aid convoy are currently stuck in Jordan, since Cairo has denied them permission to Egypt via the Red Sea.
Galloway said “it does not seem sensible to allow hundreds of tons of medicine to go off and to be spoiled and vital equipment for ill and injured people in Gaza to be stopped just because of a bureaucratic and technical difference.”
The Egyptian authorities have barred the convoy from taking the most direct route into Egypt by entering the country via the Red Sea, directing the activists towards the el-Arish port on the Mediterranean coast — which is hardly accessible for the group.
“They say that we are welcome, but we have to go by certain routes. That route cannot be achieved from where we are and where we always intended to be,” Galloway added.
Originally christened Lifeline 3, the convoy, the third international one headed to Gaza, comprises 210 trucks laden with basic food items and medical supplies.
Galloway, however, said, “We hope to persuade Egypt to find a way through, underlining that “There are sensitive negotiations and there are many parties involved…the government of Turkey, the government of Malaysia and the Viva Palestina Convoy itself.”
He had earlier reminded that “the Turkish prime minister personally appeared on live television in Damascus three days ago and asked the Egyptian government to facilitate this convoy; so this is a slap in the face, you can say, to the Turkish government.”
The Gaza Strip has endured more than two years of an Israeli-imposed blockade, which has deprived the Gazans of their most-direly-needed requirements.