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Iran protests Egypt's hold-back of aid ship

Source: Press TV

Tehran has criticized Egypt for delaying Gaza-bound humanitarian aid by refusing to allow an Iranian ship to dock at an Egyptian port.  Egyptian authorities have so far denied the relief ship permission to unload urgently-needed aid for Gaza in the Egyptian port of Al-Areesh.

Iranian Red Crescent staff loading the ship bound for the Gaza Strip.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the head of the Egyptian interests section in Tehran, Amre al- Zayat, to find out why the ship has not been permitted to dock.

"Israel's interception of an Iranian relief ship bound for Gaza is unsurprising for a country with a criminal record of human rights violation, but Egypt's hold-back of humanitarian aid is unjustifiable," said the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Following the Israeli onslaught into Gaza, the Islamic Republic loaded a ship with 2,000 tons of medical and food supplies to help allay the humanitarian crisis brought about by the intense fighting. The vessel, however, was intercepted by Israeli naval forces on Jan. 14 and consequently opted to deliver the cargo through Egypt, the only state that shares a border with the Gaza Strip.

Although Egyptian authorities issued permits for the aid's dispatch via the Al-Areesh port, they are keeping the ship anchored some 15 miles off the coast of Gaza.

Egypt's top diplomat has promised to convey Iran's complaint to the Cairo government as quickly as possible.

This is while in an exclusive interview with Press TV on Tuesday, the chief of operations of the Iranian Red Crescent, Morteza Shadbakht, said that the Iranian relief society was trying hard to avoid getting involved in political disputes in order to secure the delivery.

Tel Aviv's three week-long offensive on Gaza has paralyzed relief efforts for the besieged Palestinians, after repeatedly blocking stockpiles of food, fuel and medicine bound for the strip.

The United Nations, worried about the deepening humanitarian impact of the war, says there is an urgent need for emergency shipment.

According to relief workers, the humanitarian situation in the impoverished strip is at its worst with over 1.1 million people - about 80 percent of the residents of Gaza - dependent on food aid.

Israel later revealed that Operation Cast Lead, launched on Dec. 27, was aimed at toppling the democratically-elected Hamas government. At least 1,340 Gazans were killed and at least 5,320 others were hospitalized as a result of the onslaught.

An estimated 60,800 people are left homeless and more than 100,000 people remain displaced in the coastal sliver. Running water and electricity are reportedly available less than 12 hours a day. "Entire neighborhoods have disappeared," the BBC reported.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that more than 4,100 homes have been reduced to rubble and 17,000 others damaged.

... Payvand News - 01/27/09 ... --

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