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Asia convoy to Gaza to enter Egypt

Asia's first humanitarian aid convoy bound for the besieged Gaza Strip is finally set to enter Egypt, after nearly a week of delays

Ahram Online, Sunday 2 Jan 2011
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The "Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan”, the first convoy to attempt to reach Gaza from Asia, began its journey in India and traveled through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Syria before arriving in Lebanon last week.

The convoy, denied admission to Egypt, remained stuck in Latikia, Syria, for almost a week before Egyptian authorities allowed it to pass through Al-Arish port. The convoy includes activists from more than 15 countries, including, Iran, India, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Kuwait.

The convoy, which set off from New Delhi on 2 December, was scheduled to reach Gaza by 27 December, in time for the second anniversary of Israel's 22-day war on the Strip that started 28 December 2008.  

Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper reported that Palestinian lawmaker Khaled Abdel Mejid was informed by the Egyptian embassy in Damascus about a decision to allow 120 activists to go through, with another 46 from Iran and Jordan denied entry. Some of the aid material in the cargo was also barred, including 10 generators donated by Iran, decreasing the size of the humanitarian convoy to below 300 tons, the report said.

The convoy’s Twitter account earlier posted information that Egypt granted entry visas to "Indian and Indonesian activists", but without permission to cross into Gaza.

Meanwhile, Iranian Fars News Agency reported Sunday that two Israeli Navy ships detained a ship named "Salam" that was sailing to Gaza with intentions of getting humanitarian aid into the Strip. The passengers on the ship claimed they were detained in international waters.

The ship, with eight Asian activists onboard, left Syria Saturday. The activists were hoping to pass equipment to Gaza Strip residents through the Rafah Crossing in Egypt.

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