An elderly Palestinian woman waits to receive food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency at the refugee camp of Rafah in the besieged Gaza Strip. (file photo)

Egypt has prevented a group of 100 European and American female activists from reaching the besieged Gaza Strip.

Egyptian authorities stopped the women at the Cairo airport on Thursday, as they attempted to cross the Sinai Peninsula to spend the International Women’s Day in Gaza on Saturday.

On Wednesday, police at Cairo International Airport detained and deported Northern Irish Nobel Laureate and peace activist, Mairead Maguire, who was among the group.

Maguire told reporters that she had arrived at the airport with fellow activist Ann Patterson on March 4.

“We were taken to the detention center and questioned and held for eight hours, and were told we would not be allowed entry into Cairo and would be put on a plane,” she said.

Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.

The Israeli regime denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, and adequate healthcare and education.

The humanitarian crisis facing Gaza has escalated as the only power plant in the Palestinian territory has stopped working since November 1 last year due to severe fuel shortage.

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