Gaza Aid Convoy to Change Course

Organisers of Viva Palestina aid convoy, which is trying to reach the Gaza Strip, have now agreed to go via Syria en route to Egypt. [AFP]

Gaza Aid Convoy to Change Course

Organisers
of Viva Palestina aid convoy, which is trying to reach the Gaza Strip,
have now agreed to go via Syria en route to Egypt.

The agreement came after a Turkish mediator reached a deal with the Egyptian consul in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba.

The convoy will now head to the Syrian port of Latakia to sail from there to the Egyptian port of El Arish, and then to Gaza.

Organisers
of Viva Palestina aid convoy, which is trying to reach the Gaza Strip,
have now agreed to go via Syria en route to Egypt.

The agreement came after a Turkish mediator reached a deal with the Egyptian consul in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba.

The convoy will now head to the Syrian port of Latakia to sail from there to the Egyptian port of El Arish, and then to Gaza.

The Viva Palestina convoy, which has been stranded in Aqaba for the past five days, is led by George Galloway, a British MP.

Turkey
dispatched an official on Saturday to try convince the Egyptians to
allow the convoy to go through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, the most
direct route to Gaza after Egypt insisted that the convoy can only
enter through El-Arish, on its Mediterranean coast.

Viva
Palestina and another convoy, The Gaza Freedom March, were planning to
arrive on Sunday to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel's war
on Gaza that killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Meanwhile,
at least 300 French participants of the Gaza Freedom March spent the
night camped out in front of their embassy in Cairo, bringing a major
road in the Egyptian capital to a halt as riot police wielding
plexiglass shields surrounded them.

Egypt angry

Hossam Zaki, an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, accused the French protesters of lying and trying to embarrass Egypt.

"They claimed they had aid to carry to the Palestinians in the Gaza
Strip, which is a lie," the MENA news agency quoted Zaki as saying.

"They want media exposure and to pressure and embarrass Egypt," he said.

On Sunday, police briefly detained 38 international participants in the Sinai town of El-Arish, organisers said.

"At
noon (1000 GMT) on December 27, Egyptian security forces detained a
group of 30 activists in their hotel in El-Arish as they prepared to
leave for Gaza, placing them under house arrest.

"Another group
of eight people, including American, British, Spanish, Japanese and
Greek citizens, were detained at the bus station of El-Arish in the
afternoon of December 27," they said.

On Sunday, Egyptian police also stopped some 200 protesters from
renting boats on the Nile to hold a procession to commemorate those who
died in the Gaza war.

On December 31, participants are hoping to
join Palestinians "in a non-violent march from northern Gaza to the
Erez-Israeli border," the organisers said.

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