Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cairo refuses to let aid into Gaza


The Egyptian authorities over the weekend turned down a request by Arab physicians to bring aid into the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, meanwhile, announced that it won’t allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit as a condition for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Khalil al-Hayyah, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said the proposal was designed to “distract attention for the crime that was perpetrated against the flotilla aid ships last week.”

He said that the blockade on the Gaza Strip had been in effect before the abduction of Schalit and added that the captors of the soldier have no confidence in any party, including the Red Cross.

The Egyptian refusal came despite Egypt’s decision to reopen the Rafah border crossing in the aftermath of the aid convoy incident last week.

On Monday, a large group of Egyptian parliamentarians plans to “break” the ban of aid by bringing humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through the border crossing, sources close to Hamas announced.

Hamas legislator and spokesman Mushir al-Masri welcomed the decision and called on the Egyptian authorities to keep the Rafah terminal open on a permanent basis.

Over the weekend, the Arab Physicians Union submitted a request to the Egyptian government to send 400 tons of food and construction material, including cement, into the Gaza Strip.

The request was turned down by the Egyptian authorities, which did not offer any explanation, said Munir Albarsh, a representative of the union. He said that although the Egyptians had reopened the Rafah terminal for travelers, they were continuing to ban humanitarian aid from entering the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas government said that about 2,000 Palestinians crossed the Rafah terminal in both directions since it was reopened last week. It said that the Egyptian authorities were continuing to ban aid to the Gaza Strip, especially food and construction material. Over the past week, the Egyptians allowed the delivery of more than 7,000 blankets, five electrical wheelchairs and 357 tents to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said he was optimistic that the blockade was nearing its end. He also predicted that the “Zionist project on our lands” was approaching its final stages.

“May 31 was and will be a turning point,” he said, referring to the day of the confrontation at sea between the Israel Navy and the flotilla activists. “It marks the beginning of the delegitimization of the Zionist project in our country.”

He said that Israel had suffered a series of blows over the past two years, especially with regard to Operation Cast Lead and the UN fact-finding mission into the war, headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone.

“The Gaza War, which was won by the resistance, embarrassed the Zionist enemy,” Haniyeh said during the Friday khutba (sermon) at the Omari Mosque in Gaza City. “The Goldstone Report was a big scandal for the occupation, whose leaders are now being chased by legal and popular institutions all around the world.”

He said the flotilla raid would have positive consequences for Hamas and the Gaza Strip, as well as for the entire Palestinian people.

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