Egypt halts full aid delivery to Gaza
Egypt has imposed heavy restrictions on an Asian aid convoy, which is seeking to break a crippling Israeli blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip.
Egyptian authorities have prevented some convoy members, including Iranians and some Jordanians, from crossing into the besieged Palestinian territory and have refused to allow the convoy, which is worth some 1 million dollars of aid, to be delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.
According to a Press TV correspondent in the region, the Egyptian authorities have demanded a certain amount of money to allow the convoy's humanitarian cargo, which is currently stuck at the Egyptian port of el-Arish, to be delivered to Gaza.
The activists also told Press TV that during their stay in Egypt, the authorities had stopped them on several occasions, asking them for money.
Cairo says the humanitarian cargo, including medicine, food and toys, will be delivered to Israel and that the relief supplies will enter Gaza through Israel.
Egypt also barred Iranian supplies, among them ten power generators for hospitals, from entering the besieged strip.
Palestinians have frequently accused Cairo of collaborating with Tel Aviv to increase pressure on Gaza by refusing to allow aid convoys to reach the region.
The Asian aid convoy -- dubbed Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan or Asia 1 -- with 160 activists of 18 different nationalities, has traveled through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon. It was forced to remain in Syria for a week, awaiting Cairo's authorization to dock at its northeastern port of el-Arish.
The activists, who managed to cross into the Gaza Strip on January 3, have vowed to stay in the Palestinian territory until they make sure that the aid convoy has entered Gaza and been delivered to those in need.
The activists say they seek to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in their resistance against Israel.
Gaza has been under an all-out land, aerial and naval Israeli blockade since 2007, when Hamas, the democratically elected ruler of Gaza, took control of the coastal sliver.