6 January, 2010 — Viva Palestina/
British members of a convoy of pro-Palestinian activists trying to take aid into Gaza have been injured in clashes with Egyptian riot police.
The violence in the port of Al Arish erupted after the activists staged a demonstration protesting at the refusal of the Egyptian authorities to allow the convoy of more than 250 vehicles into the Gaza strip.
Convoy members — about 50 of whom were British — claim plain clothes police officers threw stones at them while uniformed officers attacked with tear gas and batons.
More than 50 of the 520 people with the convoy were injured, 10 of whom required hospital treatment. Six were arrested, although they were due to be released today.
George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, condemned the Egyptian authorities as “brutal, arbitrary and capricious”. He said: “This is a dictatorship funded by the United States and Israel who are stopped aid getting into Gaza. The people who fought back last night would be hailed as heroes if this was happening in some other countries, like Burma.”
He also said most of the British convoy members were Muslims.
Alexandra Lort Phillips, 37, a youth worker from Enfield who took leave from her job to join the convoy, said there was a “lot of fear” in the port compound.
“I can’t see why you need several hundred riot people to attack a humanitarian convoy. We started getting pelted with stones by people in plain clothes, then the police started moving in, using tear gas and batons. People were quite severely beaten.”
This week convoy members staged noisy protests after Egyptian officials took away their passports and there was a lengthy delay in giving them back.
After negotiations overnight with Egyptian officials, all of those arrested were due to be released and the convoy was making its was towards the border crossing of Rafah, where it has been allowed 48 hours
inside Gaza to offload food and medical supplies.
Source: Evening Standard
Alice Howard Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469