Aid convoy enters Gaza

Aid convoy enters Gaza

An international aid convoy entered Gaza from Egypt.

The Viva Palestina convoy of nearly 140 vehicles, $5 million in aid and 370 passengers from 30 countries, entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Thursday afternoon. The convoy reportedly was carrying school and medical supplies.

The convoy left more than a month ago from London, travelling by land and sea through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria before reaching Egypt.

Gaza has been under a naval blockade by Israel since Hamas took over the coastal strip in 2007.

Egypt allowed the convoy to pass through its territory and enter Gaza, but excluded 17 convoy members, including former British lawmaker and convoy organizer George Galloway. In January, Galloway was deported from Egypt and declared a persona non grata after attempting to bring a smaller convoy through the country to Gaza.

Several dozen passengers on the Mavi Marmara, on which nine Turkish nationals died May 31 when Israel’s Navy intercepted the ship as it attempted to break the Gaza blockade by sea, were on the Viva Palestina convoy.

“We are absolutely overjoyed to be here and to bring with us the soil from the graves of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara, which will be used to plant trees as a memorial to their sacrifice,” said Kevin Ovenden, the convoy director.

Members of the convoy are expected to leave Gaza and return to their homes over the weekend.