CAIRO: An Egyptian aid convoy will head towards Gaza Friday in a bid to lift the Israeli blockade imposed on the Strip for over two years.
The convoy, only carrying food supplies, will embark at 9 am from the Lawyers’ Syndicate headquarters in downtown Cairo.
The initiative was launched by the Egyptian Committee for Lifting the Blockage on Gaza led by Muslim Brotherhood (MB) member counselor Mahmoud Al-Khodeiry.
“Other than carrying supplies to the Gazans, the convoy will be a test for the regime’s stance on permitting aid convoys to reach out to Gaza,” General Coordinator of Egyptian Kefaya Movement for Change Abdel Halim Qandil told Daily News Egypt.
Qandil and other Kefaya members will be among about 150 activists, members of opposition groups and professional syndicates and MPs joining the three-bus convoy.
“We expect some factors to delay or hinder us but we will go on our way till the end and attempt to cross into Gaza. That’s why we requested everybody to bring their passports,” committee member Ahmed Ramy told Daily News Egypt.
Nine opposition and independent MPs, seven of them from the Brotherhood, had managed to enter Gaza earlier this week. But they were not allowed to deliver a cargo of construction materials.
In March, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld a ruling allowing activists to carry humanitarian aid to the Rafah border crossing for Egyptian authorities and international organizations to deliver to Gaza.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama announced a $400 million package in US aid to the Palestinians in the Strip a few days after he had been criticized for not condemning the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
On May 31 Israeli forces raided the “Freedom Flotilla,” which consisted of six ships carrying 10,000 tons of aid to Gaza, as it crossed international waters.
At least nine activists, mostly Turkish, were killed in the attack, which stirred angry reactions across the world and heightened tension between Turkey and Israel.
A day after the attack, President Hosni Mubarak ordered the opening of the Rafah border crossing in North Sinai to allow humanitarian aid into the strip. Before that, Egypt had allowed the opening of the border occasionally.
Egypt has come under fierce regional criticism for keeping the border closed.
Opposition parties accused the authorities of being complicit in the Israeli blockade through their construction of an underground barrier intended to prevent smugglers tunneling under the border.
The Rafah border is the only gateway to Gaza that bypasses Israel.
Egypt and Israel have maintained the blockade since Hamas took control of Gaza by routing Fatah forces in 2007 street battles.
Israel has always described the siege as a crucial measure to stop weapons from being smuggled to Hamas through tunnels in North Sinai.
In December 2008, Israel launched a 22-day deadly offensive against Gaza, killing at least 1,400 people, most of them civilians including women and children.