CAIRO: A convoy of medical aid will depart early Thursday morning and is scheduled to cross into Gaza by 5 a.m., announced the Al-Aish we al-Horeya (Bread and Freedom) Party in a Wednesday press conference in Cairo.
“When we first announced that there would be a medical convoy to reach Gaza, we never expected to collect this much; we thought that quarter of million at most, however we were overwhelmed by the Egyptians who surprised us with 2.3 million EGP [$320,000] worth of medical donations,” said founding party member Khalid Ali.
Ali added that the convoy would include three persons: a press spokesperson, a lawyer, and a student representative, “only a small delegate to be with the medical convoy along with the drivers, we fulfulled everything asked from us by the authorities, and hope nothing would stop us tonight”.
Lawyer Tarek al-Awady, who made the original call for a convoy, said that concern for Palestine is an issue of Egypt’s national security, adding “we are proud of what we are doing”.
Awady said the convoy was apolitical, and that the Al-Aish we al-Horeya Party was offering its services to store the supplies.
The donations were collected within a week, and once in Gaza, the goods will be transferred to the Palestinian Red Crescent, Ali said.
Tamer Qenawy, a volunteer pharmacist in the medical envoy, said during the conference the Palestinian Ministry of Health had requested “rare and expensive” medicines, as well as surgical supplies.
“We asked the people who wanted to take part with us to bring some kinds of medicine we know are not commonly available in the Egyptian market. But they surprised us by finding it,” Qenawy said
He added that they were able to collect 300,000 EGP from the universities only including the American, British and German universities.
The convoy had originally been scheduled to move from Egypt to Gaza Tuesday night, but according to Ali, it was delayed until today because the crossing will be closed due to an Egyptian national holiday commemorating the 23 July revolution.
Mona Ezzat, Al-Aish we al-Horeya party spokesperson told The Cairo Post that the convoy that will leave Thursday has finished all procedures requested from the army and the Ministry of Interior.
The attack on Gaza has killed an estimated 600 Palestinians, and a number of countries have issued statements calling for a cease-fire.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Cairo this week to meet with President Sisi before continuing a Middle East tour including Doha, Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Amman in a bid to end fighting between Israel and Palestinians.
An Egyptian initiative for a truce was refused by Hamas last week, which described it as “kneeling and submissive”, despite its endorsement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other counties including France, Japan and Italy. The initiative called for the opening of Gaza’s borders, but did not make a specific reference to the Rafah crossing, a key demand for Hamas.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shokry described Egypt’s sovereignty of the crossing as a “red line” during Ramadan Iftar meal with heads of the national newspapers in the ministry headquarters last week.
“We did all what we were asked and hope not to be stopped. The greatness of this convoy that it’s really from Egyptians to Palestinians. I can assure that all the donors are low-income people and that’s why we should call it ‘The convoy of the Egyptian people’. We are sending a message to whoever pleases facilitate the procedures and let us pass through.” Tarek al-Awady said.