by Stevie Kearney
Despite initial concerns regarding passage into Gaza, a group of volunteers from Scotland have managed to deliver a convoy of medical aid. The group crossed over on Monday with no problems, having arrived at the border crossing at Rafah in Egypt soon after the much publicised Viva Palestina convoy.
Campaign groups across the world have been calling for more medical supplies to be allowed in to the stricken region of Gaza, where the recent conflict with Israel has caused a humanitarian crisis and damage to many key buildings, including hospitals. It is estimated that around 1,330 Palestinians have lost their lives in the conflict, with a further 5,450 injured. The supplies have been delivered directly to the Al-Shifa hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza.
Journalist and volunteer driver Bruce Whitehead spoke of the the moment the group arrived, “The welcome we received from the Hamas government could not have been better. It is good to have finally hand-delivered these much needed medical supplies to the besieged people of Gaza”.
The Scottish convoy passed through France, Spain and North Africa on its way to Gaza, where 1.5 million people live in one of the world’s most densely populated areas. The journey began on the 14th of Febrauary.
Abdul Aziz, a driver and spokesperson on the convoy, said “I hope that the lasting memory for the people of Gaza will be the knowledge that these people drove thousands of miles across two continents to bring aid to the besieged people of Gaza, and the knowledge that people on the other side of the world cared about them”.
Earlier on Sunday the huge Viva Palestina convoy, led by George Galloway MP and journalist Yvonne Ridley, was stopped at the Rafah Crossing in Egypt and denied entry to Gaza by Egyptian authorities. It is unclear as to why access has been denied, but Ridley reported that the group could be, “mere political pawns in a much wider game being played out in Egypt at the moment with Libya, Egypt and Israel”.
The Scottish convoy of four trucks, four transit vans, an ambulance and a jeep also reported Israeli shells landing within a few hundred metres during the crossing into Gaza. However, there are no reports of any injuries.