Gaza convoy in Istanbul to commemorate dead activists

An aid convoy headed to the Gaza Strip stopped in Istanbul Tuesday to commemorate nine Turkish activists killed in an Israeli raid on aid ships in May.

"I greet the people of this great country and in particular the families of the martyrs who fell on May 31 in a massacre by the terrorist state of Israel," former British parliament member George Galloway, who leads the convoy, told reporters.

"Israel launched this attack to terrorize the world, to frighten them into leaving Gaza alone. But I say this now: We will never leave the people of Gaza alone," he added.

The overland convoy, including about 40 vans, cars and ambulances loaded with medical supplies and food, is organized by the Britain-based group Viva Palestina which campaigns for lifting the blockade of Gaza.

It set off from London on September 18 and passed through France, Italy and Greece before arriving in Turkey late Monday.

About 90 activists in the convoy, nationals of a dozen countries, were to visit the graves in Istanbul of two of the nine Turks who were killed in the raid on the Mavi Marmara ferry, which was part of a flotilla that had aimed to break Israel's blockade of Gaza via the sea.

The convoy is scheduled to cross into Syria on Friday and meet up with fellow activists from Algeria, Jordan and Gulf countries, organizers said.

A total of up to 200 vehicles are then scheduled to take a ferry to Egypt and reach Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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