Over 300 international aid activists on Thursday entered the blockaded Gaza Strip through the border crossing with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, bringing medical supplies with them.

The convoy, named Viva Palestina, said it had humanitarian aid valued at around 5 million dollars. The goods, along with some activists, arrived at the Egyptian port city of el—Arish by ship on Wednesday night from Syria.

Egyptian security forces said they had detained a Mauritanian member of the convoy in el—Arish and took his passport for review.

The 12 other members of the Mauritanian delegation stayed behind to wait for him.

Some 350 activists had flown to el—Arish to participate in the convoy, the fifth such initiative by the organization which says its aim is “break the blockade on the Gaza Strip.” Another 30 activists had arrived on the ship carrying the aid.

Egypt and Israel tightened a blockade on the Gaza Strip after Hamas took control of the territory in 2007.

After Israel killed nine members of a Turkish aid flotilla in May, Egypt lifted some of the restrictions at its Rafah border crossing, including allowing entry to pilgrims and Palestinians needing medical attention.

Israel also began allowing more goods into Gaza, including food, while maintaining an air and naval blockade on the Strip and keeping a ban on exports.

Egyptian security clashed with both Viva Palestina activists and Palestinians on the Gaza side of the border in January after a standoff over allowing the activists and their aid shipment into the coastal strip. They were eventually allowed through.

Egypt said it coordinated with Viva Palestina organizers while they were in Syria regarding the transfer of aid to Gaza.

“This is the biggest and most international convoy set to break the siege of Gaza so far” said a website run by former British parliamentarian George Galloway, who leads Viva Palestina.

He was told he could not return to Egypt after the January incident and was not with the convoy entering Gaza.


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