Egypt denies entry to 17 activists on board Lifeline 5 convoy to Gaza

[ 17/10/2010 – 10:48 AM ]


LATAKIA, (PIC)– The Egyptian Embassy in Syria notified Lifeline 5 operators that it will not allow 17 of the activists on board to enter the Gaza Strip, exclusive PIC sources said, underlining that the banned persons’ list includes most of the convoy’s leadership.

Lifeline spokesman Zahir Beirawi said Egyptian officials did not provide a reason for the decision, but said: “Egypt is a sovereign state and provides permission to whom we please to enter the country.”

Beirawi later contacted Egyptian authorities to inform officials that convoy leaders and members were not happy over the decision. Lifeline captains appealed to Cairo to reconsider the decision. They will respond tomorrow, Beirawi said.

Sources close to the convoy said Egypt issuing the decision one day ahead of the scheduled date of departure could suggest that the decision was intentional to hamper the convoy’s movement.

The sources warned that activists on board could become haunted by the negative atmosphere Egyptian authorities had in dealing with previous Lifeline convoys.

In wake of the Egypt’s decision, the convoy will leave the Syrian port of Latakia Monday morning setting sail to Egypt’s Al Arish port on board a large cargo ship flying the Greek flag and carrying more than 370 activists representing 34 Arab, European, and Islamic countries, humanitarian and medical aid for the besieged people of Gaza.

The convoy’s executive director Kevin Ovenden said the ship is expected to spend at least 18 hours at sea. Weather conditions could play a major role in drawing out the ship’s journey before anchoring at the Al Arish port, he added.

Discussing the possibility of another Israeli attack against the ship, Ovendand ruled out that another Marmara scenario would take place, but did not rule out the possibility that Israeli gunboats and warships would attempt to harass the ship. He stressed that the convoy leaders have prepared plans to cope with danger from the Israeli naval force.

The convoy is expected to land in the Gaza Strip Thursday morning if there are no delays at the port in Egypt. Activists are scheduled to spend three days in the Gaza Strip and will deliver the aid to charitable and humanitarian organizations within that timeframe.

In the same context, Palestine’s Health Ministry appealed to Egyptian authorities Saturday to allow entry of the Lifeline 5 convoy to Gaza.

The ministry’s Director of Media and Public Relations Ahmed El-Ashi said hundreds of thousands of patients in Gaza are in need of medicine.

He added that the ministry suffers a shortage of hundreds of medicines, which means the convoy will serve as an actual lifeline to alleviate the impact of the blockade on Gaza’s sick.

More than 180 medical and non-medical devices are out of order because of the lack of spare parts needed to operate them.

Egypt denies entry to 17 activists on board Lifeline 5 convoy to Gaza.

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