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Group of Almost 100 US Activists Hoping to Bring Aid to Gaza Strip Arrive in Egypt

Sarah El Deeb

CAIRO — About 100 U.S. activists arrived in Egypt Sunday on their
way to Gaza, hoping to deliver medical aid, trucks and support for
lifting a 2-year old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory.

activists are part of a charity group called "Viva Palestina" that aims
to send a convoy of at least 200 people - all Americans - to Gaza by
July 13. If their convoy is allowed to proceed, it would mark one of
the largest groups of U.S. activists to reach the strip since the
Islamic militant group Hamas wrestled control of the territory from its
rival Fatah in 2007.

Following the takeover, Egypt and Israel
sealed their borders with the seaside territory, allowing in only a
trickle of commercial goods and humanitarian aid.

A myriad of
international activists have brought aid to Gaza's 1.4 million
residents in an attempt to highlight the crippling blockade, attempts
that have only intensified following the three-week Israeli offensive
earlier this year in Gaza designed to stop Hamas rocket fire into
southern Israel.

Aid going through Egypt must first be cleared by
the Egyptian government. It was unclear whether authorities would
approve this convoy. Most convoys going over land have been allowed to
pass but usually after delays and bureaucracy at the borders.

activists that arrived in Cairo Sunday will wait in Cairo for the rest
of their group and supplies to assemble before heading to the border.
The group is organized by British lawmaker George Galloway, who led a
convoy that entered Gaza in March.

At the Cairo airport Sunday,
the eclectic group of volunteers from different states, including
rabbis and Christian activists, congregated in their blue T-shirts
emblazoned with the words "Viva Palestina."

Organizer Mansour
al-Barbari, from Boise, Idaho, said the group so far has raised more
than $1 million to pay for the shipment of trucks, small vans and
medical and other supplies. He said the trip was designed to open up
Americans' eyes to what is happening in Gaza.

"People there need everything ... the smallest thing," he said.

Tuesday, the Israeli navy intercepted a ship carrying foreign peace
activists, including former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, trying
to break the blockade.

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