Pro-Hamas activists have launched a sea-land convoy to Gaza via Egypt despite Israel’s allowing most items to enter through Gaza crossings. The Viva Palestina 5 convoy was organized by Britain's former Member of Parliament George Galloway, a vocal backer of Hamas who was defeated in a re-election bid several months ago.
International media have focused on the size of the convoy—projected to include 150 vehicles by the time it leaves an Egyptian port for Gaza—and the participation of one activist billed as a “survivor” of the Turkish-sponsored flotilla in late May. Eight Turkish citizens and one other national, all trained by terrorists and at least one of whom was previously involved in terrorist activity, were killed after attacking Israeli Navy commandos who ordered the ship to change its course from Gaza, which is under a maritime embargo.
Kevin Ovenden, who was on the Mavi Mamara ship that was involved in the flotilla clash, told CNN the flotilla mission is “to highlight the siege.”
Israel radically changed its policy on the embargo several months ago. Instead of listing which items are allowed to cross Gaza crossings under Israeli supervision, the government now lists only certain items that would be restricted or banned because they can be used to manufacture rockets or explosives or weapons factories.
The United States has said that the attempts to ship aid directly Gaza are superfluous, and the United Nations has stated that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
However, the flotilla organizers have used the shipment of aid as a means of allowing Hamas to import goods and merchandise without Israeli supervision. Hamas already has smuggled into Gaza hundreds of tons of explosives and thousands of advanced weapons since Israel withdrew its troops and expelled its citizens from the Gaza region in 2005.