By HISHAM ABU TAHA | ARAB NEWS
Published: Jan 3, 2011 23:34 Updated: Jan 3, 2011 23:34
GAZA CITY: The Asia 1, an aid convoy that left India at the beginning of December and is backed by southeast Asian countries, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing early Monday morning.
Of the 160 activists traveling with the convoy, 112 were allowed into the Gaza Strip. They were from India, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Kuwait. Feroz Mesberola, Indian organizer of the convoy, said the Egyptian authorities at the border point prevented a number of Iranian and Jordanian activists from entering.
The organizers said members in the convoy came from different places and religious backgrounds to prove that there is a global consensus on the need to lift the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
The activists, who were warmly received at the Palestinian side of the border crossing, carried 300 tons of medical and food supplies.
The convoy was organized in part by the Turkish Foundation of Humanitarian Relief (IHH), which put together a previous ill-fated attempt to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza with a naval aid convoy in May 2010.
Israeli commandos thwarted that effort and killed nine Turks on board one of the vessels in the aid flotilla. Facing international condemnation, Israel later relaxed the blockade and eased some restrictions on imports and exports from the coastal enclave.
Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza after Palestinians captured one of its soldiers, Gilad Shalit, in June 2006. The embargo was reinforced in 2007 after Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave, a year after it won legislative elections, following deadly fighting with Fatah.
In another development, an Israeli ground force backed by warplanes made a brief incursion Monday into Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis. Witnesses said Israeli troops advanced to the outskirts of Khuza village. Bulldozers accompanying the force razed farmland while the troops fired intensively at neighboring houses.
No one was injured in the firing but students of a local school fled their classes.
Al-Nasser Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said in a statement that their fighters confronted the invading troops and fired a mortar shell at them.
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