< HOME  Friday, January 08, 2010

Egypt deports British lawmaker Galloway

Cairo has deported British lawmaker George Galloway, following clashes between a Gaza-bound aid convoy he was accompanying and Egyptian police.

The lawmaker was planning to return to Gaza via the Rafah crossing early Friday when several Egyptian plainclothes security forces detained him and bundled him into a plane and flew him to London.

A spokeswoman for the convoy said police intervened when Galloway and colleague Ron McKay arrived at the crossing.

"As soon as they emerged on to Egyptian soil, both men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country. They were then driven off in a police convoy," the BBC quoted him as saying.

There are no comments from the Egyptian government on the deportation.

On Tuesday, Egyptian police harshly confronted a protest by Viva Palestina activists in the port of El-Arish, leaving some 60 people injured and arresting a number of them.

The scuffle followed Cairo's refusal to allow aid vehicles to enter the Palestinian Gaza Strip — which has been under a paralyzing Israeli blockade since 2007 — making the convoy take a big detour and delaying its arrival.

Despite restrictions imposed by Egyptian authorities, the convoy finally managed to deliver nearly 200 aid trucks to Gaza after a month-long journey.

Galloway, the Bow and Bethnal Green lawmaker, and his team of international activists have sent three relief convoys into the Palestinian territory.

Israel's move to keep border crossings with Gaza sealed off is further reinvigorated by Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah crossing, the only border terminal not in Tel Aviv's control.

Furthermore, Cairo has recently started building a steel wall on its border with the Gaza Strip to disrupt a network of cross-border tunnels, through which the Palestinians have been pushing in food, fuel and other essential necessities.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency Commissioner-General, Karen Abu Zaid, has described the wall as more dangerous than the Bar Lev Line built by Israel along the eastern coast of the Suez Canal after it captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt during the 1967 six-day war.



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