keeping Iran aid ship from Gaza
21 Jan 2009
An Iranian aid ship bound for Gaza has not yet received
permission to dock at the Egyptian port of Al-Areesh, 50km off the coastal
Ahmad Navvab, a provincial Red Crescent director, said Wednesday that although
Egyptian authorities issued permits for the aid's dispatch via the Al-Areesh
port, they have so far prevented the ship to drop anchor.
"Their pretext is that the port is at full capacity and lacks necessary space
for another ship," said Navvab, adding that Egyptian authorities issued
permits only after coming under international pressure.
Navvab said the vessel, holding an estimated 2,000 tons of medical and food
supplies for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, is currently anchored some 15
miles off the coast of Gaza.
This comes after the Israeli military intercepted an Iranian ship on January 14,
even though it left the Egyptian port of Said with the paperwork required to
Egypt, the only state which shares border with the Gaza Strip, has been
coordinating all activity with Israel regarding the Iranian vessel.
Tel Aviv's three week-long offensive on Gaza had paralyzed relief efforts for
the besieged Palestinians, after repeatedly blocking stockpiles of food, fuel
and medicine bound for the strip.
The United Nations, worried about the deepening humanitarian impact of the war,
says there is an urgent need for emergency shipment.
According to relief workers, the humanitarian situation in the impoverished
strip is at its worst with over 1.1 million people - about 80 percent of the
residents of Gaza - dependent on food aid.
Israel later revealed that Operation Cast Lead, launched on December 27, was
aimed at toppling the democratically-elected Hamas government. At least 1,340
Gazans were killed and at least 5,320 others were hospitalized as a result of
An estimated 60,800 people are left homeless and more than 100,000 people
remain displaced in the costal sliver. Running water and electricity are
reportedly available less than 12 hours a day. "Entire neighborhoods have
disappeared," the BBC reported.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that more than 4,100
homes have been reduced to rubble and 17,000 others damaged.
"About 1,500 factories and workshops, 20 mosques, 31 security installations
and 10 water or sewage pipes were also damaged," it added.