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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

Date

March 10, 2009

THE ‘ANGELS’ ARE IN TOWN

Viva Palestina Email Alert
19.00 (GMT) Tuesday 11th March

Gaza woke up this morning not to the sounds of F16s and the awful smells and white smoke of phosphorous bombs, but to the amazing sights of those ‘angels’ who have defied the odds to be with them in this time of great need.

salute

Today Gaza is in celebration, you can see for the first time in a long while a smile on the faces of traumatised young children who cannot fathom what is going on around them.

It was a day also for George Galloway, the leader of Viva Palestina who addressed a rally in the centre of Gaza City. He reiterated that Ismael Hania is the only and legitimate elected leader of the Palestinian people.

George also said that there is a crisis in the Arab regimes, because their people and some of their officials, their officers at border controls all despise the siege on the people of Palestine.

He added that he would like to thank the Palestinians for the reception Viva Palestina received and for the opportunity to kiss this sacred land on the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet (PBUH).

Then he addressed the members of the convoy saying that, “You have now become heroes and legends. No one will ever forget you in Palestine. Your children and brothers will value your actions and will be proud of you.”

”My son Zein Eddine who is two, can see me now on TV from London and he is saying ‘LONG LIVE PALESTINE’ When he is a grown man, he will remember that his father decided to get to Palestine and that one day he will, with his own son, come back to Palestine and its capital Jerusalem.”

The convoy has been split into groups to allow them to move around war torn Gaza. They have seen at first hand the destruction of hospitals, schools, ministries and official buildings. They visited El salam neighbourhood, El Wafa hospital, the Islamic University and various sites.

They will tour the strip and assess what is urgently needed so that plans to follow on with further aid work can be considered on their return.

Last night, some members benefited from the hospitality of the Foreign minister. Everyone is overwhelmed by the welcome and generosity of the Palestinians considering they have been left with so little.

I am told that a large number of the Convoy will start leaving Gaza tomorrow. Apparently, the Egyptians have told them that the border may close and that therefore they may be stuck in Gaza for days.

Will keep you posted.
Prepared and translated by Farid Arada
More pictures have been uploaded on the website.
On the way to Rafah – pictures from 9th March HERE
A day in Gaza – pictures form 10th March HERE

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BREAKING THE SIEGE : THE BEGINNING OF THE END ?

Viva Palestina Email Alert
00.00 (GMT) Tuesday 10th March 2009
gazaflower

The Viva Palestina convoy drove slowly along the Salah Eddine road leading to Gaza City taking in the atmosphere around them and savouring the moment of history they had just created.

Along the way, thousands of Palestinians, the other heroes of this beautiful story of resistance, defiance and hope approached every vehicle kissing, touching, hugging the bravest of Britain. They handed their babies, their young children, to the convoy members so that they could be embraced, as if the angels were in town. Drenched in flowers, tears were flowing on both sides.

Further up the road, they could see people coming out of their tents and the ruins of their destroyed homes running towards them, rubbing their eyes in disbelief that the siege has been broken and they were not alone.

In Gaza City, it was jubilations and celebrations tonight where the guests of honour did not want to be considered as guests – but as part of the ever-growing Gaza family. The Gaza authorities have organised a rally in honour of Viva Palestina and a program of activities that includes a tour of the damaged areas including schools, hospitals and other amenities.

Some support members of Viva Palestina who managed to cross on foot after a ten-hour wait at the border are staying at Rafah tonight as guests of the Gaza governing authorities. Unfortunately, some other members are still awaiting permission to cross. They are hoping that the Egyptians will allow them to join their friends tomorrow.

An eventful day, with a roller-coaster of emotions, is drawing to an close. Tomorrow Viva Palestina will tour Gaza to see, at first hand, the plight of one and half million people in the densest concentration of people per square kilometre on the globe.

They will report on the scale of the calamity in what, in reality, is the world’s biggest concentration camp, where people have endured a never-ending siege and where they have nowhere to run when the F16s decide to play their deadly game with the children of Gaza.

Farid Arada

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