Stalled convoy finally delivers medical aid to Gaza as crisis worsens
Medical aid convoy to Gaza - Courtesy: Popular Committee to Support the Palestinian Uprising Facebook page

The Popular Campaign to Support the Uprising of the Palestinian People has successfully delivered a convoy of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, committee member Khaled Ali tweeted on Friday afternoon.

The beleaguered convoy finally arrived at Sinai’s Rafah border crossing on Friday morning after temporarily being halted by the military on Thursday, reported the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY).

According to the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram, the total value of the donated resources comes to EGP2.3 million.

The convoy handed the supplies over to a representative of the Red Crescent movement after Friday prayers.

The Egyptian Armed Forces had stopped the convoy at a checkpoint on Thursday, according to activists, claiming that it did not have a permit from the military intelligence. However, the convoy’s organizers said they had the requisite approval from General Intelligence Services and the ministries of health and foreign affairs.

Only two of the 12 activists in the convoy were permitted to proceed all the way to Rafah.

Also on Friday, the Pharmacists Syndicate announced that it had obtained the necessary permits to send a convoy of medicines to the strip.

As of this morning, five trucks were en route to the Rafah crossing with roughly 5 tons of basic medications needed for intensive care units, including antibiotics, painkillers and coagulant drugs used to stop bleeding, reported AMAY.

The syndicate’s rescue and aid committee plans to continue to collect medicine to send to the embattled Palestinian enclave until the end of the crisis, said Sherif Abdel Aal, one of the organizers of the convoy.

Last Saturday, the military stopped an aid convoy of 11 buses and 550 activists coordinated by the same group at the Balouza checkpoint in Arish, saying that it would not be able to secure the convoy or supplies in the Gaza Strip.

The aid arrives as the humanitarian crisis across the border continues to worsen. By early Friday afternoon, the Palestinian death toll in the ongoing conflict — now in its third week — had risen to 815, according to Gaza emergency services.

Thursday was one of the deadliest days in the crisis — nearly 100 Palestinian lives were claimed in Israeli air strikes. One of those strikes targeted a United Nations school used as a shelter for Palestinian civilians, killing at least 15. Israel, however, claims the school was hit by an errant rocket fired by the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

The UN says it is providing shelter for roughly 400,000 displaced Palestinians in schools throughout the strip.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo earlier this week to apply pressure for the cease-fire proposed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s administration.

On Thursday night the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram cited anonymous sources as saying that Egyptian diplomats believed a cease-fire would be brokered within 72 hours, but observers believe a truce is still out of reach.

On Friday morning Kerry reportedly met with Ban Ki-moon to discuss a revision of Egypt’s initial proposal that would entail a week-long laying down of arms, during which Hamas’ political demands — chiefly including ending the siege on Gaza, opening border crossings with Egypt and Israel and the release of Palestinian political prisoners — would be discussed. However, Israel would demand to keep its troops on the ground in Gaza throughout the cease-fire.

Kerry and Ban were due to speak in a press conference in Cairo on Friday morning to comment on the truce initiative, but that has now been postponed until 8:30 pm as diplomatic talks are ongoing, and as the Israeli security cabinet continues to discuss the proposal. Kerry and Ban had issued a deadline of Friday afternoon to strike a deal.


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