Reuters: Egypt will allow an Asian aid convoy to enter the Gaza Strip through its Rafah border but has barred Iranian activists from travelling with the convoy for security reasons, Egyptian sources said on Friday.
ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) – Egypt will allow an Asian aid convoy to enter the Gaza Strip through its Rafah border but has barred Iranian activists from travelling with the convoy for security reasons, Egyptian sources said on Friday.
The “Asia 1” convoy’s 120 activists from 18 different Asian countries will sail on Saturday from the Syrian Al Ladhiqiyah port en route to Egypt’s Arish harbour in Arish city, 40 km (25 miles) from Egypt’s Rafah border with Gaza.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since 2007, when Islamist group Hamas took control of the territory.
The convoy will be allowed to take its 300 tonnes of medical aid, including four ambulances, for Palestinians in Gaza through the Rafah border, security sources said.
Security sources said Iranians were denied access for “security and organisational reasons,” without giving details. It was not known how many Iranian activists intended to travel on the convoy.
U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have shown Egypt was wary of Iran’s spreading influence in the region.
One cable quoted Egypt’s spy chief Omar Suleiman as saying Iran was giving Hamas $25 million (16 million pounds) a month in funds, but that Egypt was preventing financial support entering Gaza. Iran says its support for Hamas is diplomatic only.
“Asia 1” was scheduled to reach Gaza on December 27, in time for the second anniversary of Israel’s 22-day war on the Strip in 2008. Some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died.
Iran and Egypt severed ties in 1980 after Iran’s Islamic Revolution and Egypt’s recognition of Israel.
(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; writing by Marwa Awad; editing by Philippa Fletcher)