The Asia 1 convoy finally set foot in the Gaza Strip after an epic journey starting in New Delhi, India in early December 2010. They had hoped to reach the besieged Strip on the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead (27 December 2010). However, due to political sensitivities the convoy was delayed in Syria for up to a week before being granted visas into Egypt. The convoy passed through Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Syria, before being allowed into Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
108 humanitarians out of the original 170 walked into Gaza City earlier today to the applause and warm welcome of the local Gazans. Iranian members of the convoy as well as Jordanian and a few other nationals were prevented by the Egyptian authorities to enter. The convoy consisted of humanitarian aid worth around $1m and included four ambulances, eight trucks carrying 1,000 tons of medical aid, clothing, infant milk, and specialist equipment for those with special needs.
The delegation visited the areas left devastated after Operation Cast Lead, which claimed over 1,400 Palestinian lives, many of whom were women and children, and met with families of current prisoners of the Israeli occupation. They also visited a number of people who still carry visible scars and injuries from the onslaught on Gaza in 2008-09.
The Indonesian contingency of the Asia 1 convoy have promised to set up a hospital in the northern region of the Gaza Strip, an area left almost totally destroyed after the Israeli aggression. The delegation later met members of the Council of Ministers including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad