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Road to Hope Gaza aid convoy arrives at Al-Arish Port PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:45

The Governmental Committee for breaking the siege 

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After numerous setbacks -- including a standstill in Libya and a conflict with a ship captain that left them lost in open waters -- the Road to Hope convoy, carrying aid supplies for Gaza, has finally arrived at Al-Arish Port.

At press time, the convoy was still awaiting permission to dock at Al-Arish Port. It is expected that the convoy will receive official docking permission once various members of the convoy arrive by plane, Road to Hope team leader Tauqir Sharif told Daily News Egypt. According to Sharif, the convoy members' air travel plans are still being prepared.

The majority of the convoy's members are not currently on board the ship near Al-Arish. The ship contains 30 of the convoy's vehicles and is being manned by only three members, which means that the rest must instead find flights to Al-Arish from their respective locations in order to continue their journey.

Road to Hope has faced many obstacles. The humanitarian aid convoy was held at the Libyan-Egyptian border for almost a month. The Egyptian authorities refused to allow the convoy land access to Gaza, forcing the convoy to raise money in order to secure a ship.

By Nov. 10, the convoy transferred $82,500 to the Egyptian shipping agent representing Maltese, registered as "Strofades IV," for a charter ship from Derna, Libya, to Al-Arish, Egypt.

The ship captain, who kept raising the price while en route to Egypt, abandoned ship in open waters. The convoy members were lost at sea for 36 hours until they managed to send a distress signal, which was picked up by Greek forces that rescued them.

Among those onboard during the crisis was convoy spokesman Ken O'Keefe, a former US marine who was on-board the Mavi Marmara during the highly publicized Israeli raid and was personally responsible in disarming two Israeli commandos during the attack.

O'Keefe described the treatment they received onboard the ship: "While we were at sea for two days we had almost no fresh water. Instead, we only had access to ship tap water, which we did not trust. In these two days we had one meal, [and] we slept on the floor without covers in a 20-foot by 10-foot room. As a vegetarian, I did not eat but once in the four days [we were abducted]."

The convoy left London on Oct. 10 with £500,000 in medical aid for besieged Palestinians in Gaza. It is composed of 101 humanitarian aid workers, including eight survivors of the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla -- seven of whom were aboard the Mavi Marmara itself. It has traveled through England, France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya