Report: Egypt bans Gaza-bound humanitarian aid convoys
Egyptian FM: Aid bound for Gaza will be barred from Egypt after activists clashed with police this week.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Saturday said that aid convoys bound for the Gaza Strip will now be banned from traveling across Egypt after activists this week clashed with police, French news agency AFP reported.
On Tuesday clashes erupted between members of the convoy and Egyptian riot police in the Mediterranean port city of El-Arish that left one Egyptian security guard dead and dozens of protesters and police injured.
Aboul Gheit told government newspaper Al-Ahram that members of one convoy led by British MP George Galloway committed "criminal" acts on Egyptian soil on their way to Gaza.
"Egypt will no longer allow convoys, regardless of their origin or who is organizing them, from crossing its territory," Abul Gheit said, according to AFP.
"Members of the [Viva Palestina] convoy committed hostile acts, even criminal ones, on Egyptian territory," the foreign minister added without elaborating.
Seven protesters were arrested during Tuesday's clashes, but police swapped them for four policemen held by the activists.
A prosecutor in El-Arish later issued warrants for the arrest of seven activists, including two Britons and an American woman.
Aboul Gheit said that, from now on, aid to Gaza must be handed over to the Red Crescent at El-Arish who will turn it over to the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim relief organization in Gaza.
The comments come a day after a foreign ministry official told Galloway he was no longer welcome in Egypt as he flew out of the country.
Later on Friday, Galloway told Sky News television he and a friend had been "bundled into a car" and given little choice but to get on a plane out of Egypt. "On the steps of the plane a representative of the foreign affairs ministry in Egypt told me that I was declared persona non grata," he said.
Egypt accused Galloway, who once called at a London rally for the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, of trying to embarrass the country, which has refused to permanently open its Rafah border crossing with Gaza.