European aid convoy blocked from entering Gaza

AP, Taiwan News, May 25, 2009

A European convoy of medical aid was stopped Sunday from crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip, a member of the group said.

The group calling itself the Hope for Gaza Convoy made the latest attempt by humanitarian campaigners to break a blockade of Gaza. Israel and Egypt have kept the territory's borders sealed since the militants of Hamas seized control there two years ago in a battle with their Palestinian rivals.

Some aid has been allowed through, but aid groups say it is not enough to allow Gaza's ill-equipped hospitals to treat those injured in Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza's Hamas rulers earlier this year.

The group of about 100 humanitarian activists and workers from non-governmental organizations from around Europe had their passports stamped for entry but were then kept from crossing, said Gerry MacLochlainn, a member of the Derry City Council in Ireland who accompanied the group.

He did not know whether Egyptian or Palestinian authorities were blocking the group.

The group is trying to deliver 25 ambulances, a kidney dialysis machine, wheelchairs and more than $47,000 worth of medicine paid for with money raised by charities and donations. The aid was requested by the Red Cross, MacLochlainn said.

"There's people suffering as a result of the war, and on top of that, there's people who are chronically ill in any case. So there's an urgent need for medical aid," he said.

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