Egypt declares George Galloway ‘persona non grata’ as he’s kicked out of the country after crossing the border from Gaza

MAILONLINE… George Galloway has been permanently banned from Egypt after he was thrown out of the country this morning.

Cairo is accusing the British MP of incitement after his harsh criticism of the government there over delays in an aid convoy’s entry into Gaza, the foreign ministry said today.

‘George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again,’ a Foreign Ministry statement said.

This morning plain clothes police officers bundled the Respect MP on to a plane bound for London, said a spokeswoman for the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy.

Galloway had crossed the border into Egypt – but wanted to return to Gaza after news broke that members of the convoy had been arrested.

The incident began after Mr Galloway and his colleague, Ron McKay, arrived at the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt.

‘As soon as they emerged on to Egyptian soil, both men were forcibly pushed into a van, refused exit and told that they were leaving the country,’ a spokeswoman said.

‘They were then driven off in a police convoy.’

A police officer maintained security only escorted him for his own protection.

‘It was to protect him from the Egyptian people’s anger,’ he said.

‘He was told that he is a trouble-maker and his behaviour is undermining Egyptian security.’

Galloway led more than 500 activists as part of an international aid convoy to Gaza. 

They entered late Gaza Wednesday from Egypt after a month travelling. Egypt gave them only 24 hours in the blockaded sea side strip before it said it would re-close the crossing.

On Tuesday clashes erupted between members of the convoy and Egyptian riot police in the Mediterranean port city of El-Arish after the convoy was delayed due to some of the materials it was carrying.

The aid convoy of 550 people from 17 countries blamed the violence on ‘heavy-handed policing’ of the group.

Dozens of protesters and police were injured. Seven convoy members were ordered arrested if they returned to Egypt.

‘Mr Galloway and Turkish MPs struck a deal with Egyptian authorities, part of which was that the seven detainees were released without charge.

‘On the enforced drive to Cairo, news came through of the imminent arrest of the seven,’ the convoy spokeswoman siad.

‘But, when Mr Galloway demanded to return to Rafah, permission was repeatedly denied.’

A sympathy protest along the Gaza-side of the border Wednesday degenerated into stone-throwing scuffles and exchange of fire between Egyptian security and Palestinian gunmen, killing one Egyptian border guard.

The convoy was organized by the Britain-based group Viva Palestina, which planned to deliver hundreds of tons of aid.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘We will continue to offer consular assistance to anyone who needs it.’

Deadly Gunfire at Gaza Protest on Egypt Border

NYTimes… JERUSALEM — An anti-Egypt rally in southern Gaza turned deadly on Wednesday when demonstrators rushed the border fence and stoned Egyptian troops on the other side, leading to an exchange of gunfire and the death of an Egyptian soldier. Nine Egyptian soldiers and a dozen Palestinians were wounded from stones and gunfire, witnesses and medics said.

It was the most serious Palestinian-Egyptian violence along the closed Gaza border since Israel’s short-lived invasion more than a year ago, and reflected rising tensions between Gaza’s Hamas rulers and the Egyptian government, which, like Israel, appears determined to keep Gaza isolated. The demonstration, organized by Hamas, protested Egypt’s refusal to allow international aid and solidarity missions into Gaza as well as Egypt’s construction of an underground barrier to obstruct smuggler tunnels. Those tunnels supply both goods and arms to Hamas and Gaza.

As Hamas leaders gave speeches, young men climbed the border fence and threw rocks at the Egyptians, witnesses and police reported, and Palestinian police officers shot in the air to control the crowd, though to little avail. Egyptian troops then shot from their side. “Two Palestinians were instantly wounded from five bullets,” a witness said.

The Egyptian forces also tear-gassed demonstrators who waved Hamas and Turkish flags, witnesses said. A Palestinian aid convoy was stopped by Egypt in the northern Sinai city of El Arish and included Turkish activists. The group, called Viva Palestina, consisted of 500 people, including Americans, British and Jordanians. It had scuffled earlier with Egyptian security officials in El Arish. Dozens were hurt.

A compromise was reached and part of the convoy was en route into Gaza by nightfall.

“The area is calm now and the situation on the border is stable,” said Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the Hamas Interior Ministry, at a news conference in Gaza City.

The Egyptian soldier who was killed was in an observation tower 100 yards from the demonstration’s stage, witnesses said.

Dr. Ahmed Shehada of Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, said it had taken in 12 wounded Palestinians, “most of them hit by gunshots.”