RAFAH, Gaza Strip - British MP George Galloway arrived in Gaza Monday at the head of an aid convoy to protest Israel’s “genocidal aggression” against the Hamas enclave and support the Palestinian “resistance.”
The staunchly pro-Palestinian parliamentarian said he was ”overwhelmed with happiness” to arrive in Gaza on the birthday of the Muslim prophet Mohammed and in the wake of Israel’s massive offensive at the turn of the year.
“I have entered Palestine many times but the most emotional of these is after the 22-day genocidal aggression against the Palestinian people,” he told reporters, referring to the war that came to a halt on January 18.
He added that he planned to meet “the heroes of Palestine’s resistance, the government of Palestine, the people of Palestine.”
While waiting to cross in the Egyptian town of El-Arish near the border the convoy was vandalised and pelted with stones, according to organisers.
Galloway said Egyptian authorities had forced the group to send some of the aid into Gaza via Israel but that it was carried by the Egyptian Red Crescent and not accompanied by any of the convoy participants.
“I have never discussed anything with Israel in my life and I will not start now,” Galloway said.
On the attack in Egypt last night:
Several activists were injured Sunday after the attackers--claimed to be members of Palestinian Fatah faction--pelted the convoy with stones and vandalized some cars in the Egyptian town of El-Arish, 45 km south of the Rafah border-crossing.
"It's an absolute disgrace... The power was cut. During cover of darkness, members of our convoy were attacked with stones," according to Yvonne Ridley, one of the convoy organizers, who added: "Vandals also wrote dirty words and anti-Hamas slogans."
Convoy led by George Galloway, a British member of parliament--who previously called Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president, an "international criminal" for not permanently-opening the Rafah crossing into Gaza--the Viva Palestina convoy has caused controversy in Egypt.
The lawmaker alleged that the Egyptian authorities did not protect the convoy despite promises. "They are blocking us inside, but they don't protect us." However, he agreed to meet with representatives of Mubarak's National Democratic party as he arrived in Cairo Saturday.