Medical aid and 518 activists entered Gaza the night of Jan. 6 after protests against the Egyptian government refusal to allow 400 of the group to pass lead to clashes at the Rafah border crossing. An Egyptian soldier was reportedly shot dead during the clashes, and at least 12 Palestinians were injured during a a protest against Egypt’s perceived compli’scity in the Israeli blockade. The protest had been called by the Hamas administration that governs the Strip, against what they called attacks on the Viva Palestina convoy.
Following the demonstration, some 50 people broke away from the crowd of hundreds, hurling stones at Egyptian troops. The soldiers opened fire on the crowd, wounding two people, according to medics. Ten people were also hurt in a stampede of protesters fleeing the gunfire.
The previous night, more than 50 international activists were wounded in clashes with riot police in the Egyptian port town of al-Arish, some 40 kilometers from Gaza. Police trained water cannons on more than 500 members of the Viva Palestina convoy, including British MP George Galloway.
Members of the convoy said they blocked the entrance to port when the Egyptian government demanded that some vehicles of the convoy enter Gaza through an Israeli checkpoint. Galloway said Israel was likely to block the shipment of aid. “It is completely unconscionable that 25% of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza,” Galloway told Reuters. (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 6)