Aid convoy ‘Miles of Smiles 3’ reaches Gaza

June 21, 2011

A European aid convoy with 53 pro-Palestinian activists has entered the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing to help ease the conditions of Palestinians in the coastal sliver.

The humanitarian aid convoy, called “Miles of Smiles 3”, entered Gaza with about 30 tons of medicine, medical supplies and milk powder on Sunday, a Press TV correspondent reported.
The activists accompanying the convoy are from different nationalities and traveled thousands of miles to bring smiles to the Gazan faces, hence the convoy's name.
They hope the aid would save lives and alleviate some of the pain and suffering of those who need medical attention in Gaza.
“It is very important to show the world that the siege has to be broken, and we have got to bring normality back to Gaza and bring the people of Gaza back into the world,” said Ibrahim Hewitt, chairman of the British independent charitable organization Interpal.
Israel laid an economic siege on the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after the democratically-elected Hamas lawmakers took over the administration of the enclave.
The blockade has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished territory.
According to the Press TV report, over 360 patients have died since 2007 due to frequent medicine shortages and travel restrictions.
Israel vows to stop new Gaza aid flotilla
Israel's Navy has said it will not allow a new international flotilla of ships to break the blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip and reached the coastal sliver.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the completion of Israeli navy's submarine training course on Sunday, Navy head Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom said Israel's navy is going ahead with preparations to stop a planned flotilla slated to attempt to break the blockade on Gaza in two weeks, Ha'aretz reported on Monday.
Marom added that the flotilla's goal is to ""cause a confrontation” with Israeli soldiers. He also said that “de-legitimization of Israel"" is another objective of the flotilla activists.
He called on world leaders to ""impose all their authority to prevent the departure of this needless, provocative flotilla.""
The vice admiral, however, failed to notice that the Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip has been internationally recognize as illegitimate and condemned for turning the strip into an “open-air prison.”
Some 1,500 activists are expected to take part in a convoy that will sail for Gaze at the end of June. The convoy aims to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip one year after a deadly Israeli raid on a similar fleet.
The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish nationals aboard the Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara and injuring about 50 other people who were part of the team on the six-ship convoy.
Israel also arrested and later released nearly 700 activists from 42 countries that were onboard the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian relief aid to Gazans.
(Source: Press TV)
Photo: Nine Turkish activists were assassinated on May 31, 2010, after Israeli forces opened fire on the Mavi Marmara aid ship sailing for the Gaza Strip.