Egyptian stance forces route change for Gaza charity convoy

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Amman_(dpa) _ Activists in charge of a 210-truck convoy carrying humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Gaza Strip said Tuesday that they had decided to change their route after Egyptian authorities blocked their entry to the Red Sea port of Nuweiba.

The convoy, known as Viva Palestina, will instead travel from the Jordanian port of Aqaba, where it has been stuck for four days, to Amman, before heading to Syria, said Ali Abul-Sukkar, a spokesman for the Jordanian Professional Associations Council, which is involved in the campaign.

The cargo will later be loaded onto a ship at the Mediterranean port of Latakia, bound for the port of al-Arish, the conduit through which Egypt insists all aid to the Palestinian enclave should pass.

The decision to change the convoy's route came after Turkish mediation failed to muster Egyptian approval for transit to the Gaza Strip's Rafah crossing via Nuweiba. The Rafah Crossing is the only access point into the Palestinian territory that bypasses Israel, Abul-Sukkar said.

In a statement sent to reporters Tuesday afternoon, the Egyptian Ministry of Information said Egypt had as early as November 10 informed British lawmaker George Galloway, who is leading the convoy of 450 activists from 17 countries, that aid must pass through al-Arish.

"Egypt was surprised with Galloway's insistence to disregard the Egyptian directives as the convoy left (for Jordan) and then southward to ... Aqaba ahead of trying to enter (Egypt) via Nuweiba port, in violation of the mentioned Egyptian mechanism," the statement said.

"In light of Egypt's feeling that the convoy organizers are seeking to impose a fait accompli and disregard the Egyptian directives, Egypt announced that it will not allow the convoy access, except through Arish port," the statement said. dpa ajm zar ncs

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