Egyptian authorities have announced that all aid convoys travelling
to Gaza will be banned from travelling across Egypt after a riot
broke out at the Rafah border crossing earlier in the week.
Ahmed Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, said in remarks
published on Saturday that members of Viva Palestina, the last
convoy allowed through, had "committed hostile acts, even criminal
ones" on Egyptian soil.
"Egypt will no longer allow convoys, regardless of their origin or
who is organising them, from crossing its territory," he told
More than 50 people were wounded during a clash between Egyptian
authorities and international members of the convoy on Tuesday after
Egypt decided to allow 139 vehicles to enter Gaza, but said a
remaining 59 vehicles would have to pass via Israel.
The Rafah border is the only crossing point into the Palestinian
territory not controlled by Israel. However, both Rafah and the
Israeli-controlled crossings have largely remained sealed since
2007, when the Palestinian group Hamas gained control of the Strip.
British MP deported
George Galloway, the British MP leading Viva Palestina, was himself
deported by the Egyptian government on Friday.
The politician was picked up by Egyptian officials at Rafah and
driven to Cairo, the capital, where he was placed on a flight back
The Egyptian foreign ministry said Galloway had been declared
"persona non grata" and would not be allowed to return to the
country, accusing him of incitement over his criticism of the
Arrest warrants were also issued for seven other members of the
convoy after being accused of inciting riots in El-Arish, the
Mediterranean port town where Viva Palestina entered the country.
The Respect Party MP has been vocal in his criticism of Egyptian
authorities in recent days.
"It's always been a badge of honour to be deported by a tin-pot
dictator and that's what happened," he said after arriving at
London's Heathrow airport.
Abul Gheit, who spoke to
during a visit to Washington, said future aid convoys will have to
turn their supplies over to El-Arish's Red Crescent chapter.
The relief organisation would then be responsible for transferring
the aid to its Palestinian counterpart.
Israel and Egypt have severely restricted travel to and from the
Gaza Strip, and only very basic supplies are allowed in.
Aid organisations say the siege has placed Gazans in a dire
situation, made worse by the Israel's offensive last year that
reduced much of the territory to ruins.