More than 400 members of an international aid convoy to Gaza declared a hunger strike on Sunday to protest Egypt's refusal to allow them entry into the Hamas-ruled territory via the Red Sea.
Amongst the hunger strikers is an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor who came from the U.S. to participate in the planned Gaza Freedom March to commemorate last year's Gaza war.
Alice Howard, a spokeswoman for British-based Viva Palestina, said the group was consuming only liquids, as it remained stranded in the Red Sea port of Aqaba.
Led by British MP George Galloway, 150 vehicles were carrying hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid. They had hoped to enter Gaza on Sunday, the first anniversary of Israel's offensive against Hamas in the coastal strip, Operation Cast lead.
Egypt refused to let the group enter through the Red Sea. It says they should use a Mediterranean route closer to the Gaza border.
Howard said Turkey is trying to mediate.
Galloway, a controversial lawmaker who was expelled from the ruling Labor party, visited Gaza earlier this year at the head of a similar aid caravan. Upon his arrival, a senior Hamas official thanked Galloway for the "noble goodwill gesture" and called him a "hero."
In addition, over 1,000 citizens from 42 different countries were also en-route to Gaza where they hoped to join the Gaza Freedom March.
After months of preparation and meetings with Egyptian officials, Egypt announced that the protesters would be denied entry into Gaza,
In total, almost 1400 people are stranded and blockaded in Cairo by Egyptian security forces.
One group of European participants has camped out in front of the French Embassy demanding buses to travel to Gaza. Others have attempted to get private buses but have been turned away on orders of the Egyptian police.
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