Hugh Naylor
The National
June 13, 2012 - 12:00am

A humanitarian-aid delegation led by Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood is on a weeklong visit to the Gaza Strip, as Palestinians prepared to mark tomorrow's fifth anniversary of Hamas's conquest of the territory.

Some 10 tonnes of medical aid arrived in Gaza on Sunday with the delegation of 100 activists from 17 Arab countries, the unofficial Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Monday.

Humam Saed, a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Jordan, led the group into Gaza through the Rafah crossing point, Egypt's only point of entry into the Palestinian enclave. After inspecting the cargo, Egyptian authorities approved the delivery.

Hamas leaders hope the rise of Islamist groups in the region and Egypt in particular, where Islamist parties won the most seats in parliamentary elections last year, will end its isolation.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt played a crucial role in helping Israel maintain a blockade over Gaza.

Israel intensified the blockade after Hamas wrested control of the area during a weeklong civil war in June of 2007, defeated the forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian faction of Fatah.

The Islamist group has had to rely heavily on smuggling tunnels because of Israeli pressure.

After last year's revolution that toppled Mr Mubarak, Cairo began loosening restrictions at the Rafah crossing, opening it to larger numbers of passengers coming from Gaza. Egypt still has not opened the crossing to commercial trade.

Israel, along with the United States and European Union, classify Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries that maintain a peace treaty with Israel.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017