Aid convoy arrives in besieged Gaza Strip
By Ola Attalah, Monday, April 21, 2014
GAZA CITY – The Miles of Smiles 26 aid convoy arrived on Sunday in the besieged Gaza Strip through the Rafah border with Egypt, where it was received by Gaza's Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad.
This is the convoy's first visit since February. The 35-member delegation – now conducting its 26th visit to Gaza – includes activists from the United Kingdom, Algeria and Libya, head of the convoy Essam Youssef told reporters.
"This convoy represents a glimpse of hope for the return of solidarity convoys [to Gaza] after months' hiatus," Youssef said.
The arrival of aid convoys into the coastal enclave has been recently hindered after Egyptian authorities tightened restrictions on the border with Gaza since last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian army, citing "security reasons."
Essam, however, said he has received promises from Egyptian border officials to ease border restrictions.
For his part, Hamad thanked the Egyptian government for allowing in the convoy and asserted to its members that the convoy continues to reflect the "depth of solidarity with Gaza's besieged people."
Recently, living conditions in the Palestinian enclave – groaning under an Israeli blockade for years – deteriorated further after Egypt began destroying the smuggling tunnels connecting the coastal enclave to neighboring Sinai Peninsula.
Hamas, the group which runs Gaza since 2007, is an ideological offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood group, which propelled Morsi to power in the 2012 elections.
The Gaza Foreign Ministry previously announced that the continuous closure of the borders by Egypt has reduced the arrivals of aid convoys by as much as 95 percent.
An Egyptian court banned Hamas's activities in Egypt in March, following accusation by the Egyptian government that the group is interfering in Cairo's affairs and supporting violence across the country – an accusation the group continues to vehemently deny.
Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency
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