(photo credit: AP)
Some 24 days after leaving Britain, part of a Gaza aid convoy finally arrived in the Strip via the Rafah border crossing on Monday, prompting British MP George Galloway, who headed the group, to kiss the ground.
The "Viva Palestina" convoy, bringing medicine, food, clothing and toys, traveled more than 12,000 kilometers, through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. It also included ambulances and a fire engine.
The convoy reached the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing on Sunday, but was delayed due to the Egyptian security forces' objection to the delivery of non-medical aid. The activists spent the night in El-Arish, where locals reportedly pelted them with stones and sprayed anti-Hamas graffiti on their cars.
Eventually, an agreement was made with Egypt, whereby some of the non-medial supplies - including electrical generators and the fire engine - were unloaded and were to be transferred via the Egyptian Red Cross through border crossings under Israel's control after being checked by the IDF.
A Hamas border official said about 50 British and Scottish volunteers and 100 vehicles carrying food, clothing and medicine had passed through the Rafah terminal. Galloway said 300 British citizens and 200 Libyans would be entering Gaza.
After entering the Strip, Galloway called the aid "a drop in the ocean," but said the trip was to send a message that "the lifeline from Britain to Gaza is in."
He vowed that more such aid convoys would follow and that Gazans should not feel they were alone.
"I have entered Palestine many times but the most emotional of these is after the 22-day genocidal aggression against the Palestinian people," he told reporters.
Receiving the activists, Ahmed Kurd, Hamas's minister of social affairs, thanked Galloway for the "noble goodwill gesture" and called the lawmaker a "hero."