Aid convoy denied entry to Gaza on 19 July, 2014 (Photo:Ahram)
An Egyptian popular aid convoy bound for Gaza has reached Al-Arish and will continue to the Rafah border crossing on Friday with plans to deliver medicine to the besieged Palestinian enclave, members of the convoy told Ahram Online.
Activists are set to deliver LE2.3 million worth of medical aid to Gaza from gathered donations.
One of the volunteers, Zizo Abdu, told Ahram Online that only two people were allowed to stay with the loaded vehicles, while the other 10 were sent back.
The convoy passed Qantara crossing on the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya as well as Balooza checkpoint in northern Sinai and entered the border town of Al-Arish, said Tamer Qenawi, one of the two activists allowed to accompany the convoy.
He said an armoured police vehicle escorted them to Al-Arish's security headquarters, where the convoy will spend the night before they head to the Rafah border crossing in northern Sinai on Friday morning.
"We thank God that after a lot of complications and problems, things were sorted out in the past couple of hours," Qenawi told Ahram Online.
He said the 12 people in the convoy had obtained permission from the Egyptian ministries of foreign affairs and health as well as the general intelligence.
But permission from the military intelligence was also needed for them to complete the trip – which authorities hadn't mentioned before they set off from Cairo on Thursday morning, he said.
Only Qenawi – the representative pharmacist from the Popular Campaign to Support the Palestinian Uprising – and the deputy head of the Doctors Syndicate were allowed to stay with the convoy overnight.
"The priority is to deliver the medication and donations with which Egyptians have entrusted us to the people of Gaza," Qenawi said.
Volunteers plan to deliver the medical supplies to the Palestinian Red Crescent, which will distribute the aid to hospitals in Gaza.
Over 800 Palestinians have been killed and 4,000 others injured since Israel launched an offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on 8 July.
A ground offensive that started a week ago increased losses on the Palestinian side, killing and wounding hundreds of children and women in raids that have also targeted hospitals and schools.
Israel has so far lost 32 soldiers and three civilians.
A similar Egyptian convoy of 11 buses and 550 activists was stopped at a military checkpoint on the route to Gaza on Saturday and was sent back. The military security concerns for the safety of the convoy.
Egypt's authorities sent 500 tonnes of food and medical supplies as humanitarian aid to Gaza soon after the Israeli offensive started.
The government also opened the Rafah border crossing, the only non-Israeli passage to Gaza, for wounded Palestinians to be treated in Egyptian hospitals.