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December 22, 2009

Gaza marchers vow to go forward despite red light from Egyptian gov’t

by Philip Weiss on December 21, 2009 · 28 comments

Earlier today we got the following press release from the Gaza Freedom March Steering Committee. At the bottom I have added numbers that our friends can call to pressure the Egyptian government to let our people in.

Gaza Freedom March is determined to break the siege
1,360 International Delegates appeal to Egypt to let the March proceed

Citing escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us on December 20 that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,360 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now.
Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we’ve encountered—and overcome–before. No delegation, large or small, that has entered Gaza over the past 12 months has received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.
Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and to march in Gaza on December 31 against the international blockade. We are continuing the journey.
Egyptian embassies and missions all over the world will be hearing by phone, fax and email from delegates and the supporters of the Gaza Freedom March over the coming crucial days, with the clear message: Let the international delegation enter Gaza and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed.
Many delegates are already in Cairo and more are arriving daily. Delegates cancelled holiday plans months ago to come on the Gaza Freedom march and air tickets were purchased. We anticipate that virtually all of the 1,360 delegates will come to Cairo.
Because of the incredible humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by the Israeli attack on Gaza a year ago and by the international siege on Gaza, we feel morally obligated to continue our mission to bring more international attention to the plight of the 1.5 million people imprisoned in Gaza.
The Gaza Freedom March Steering Committee
For more information, contact Ann Wright
019 508 1493 (cairo), microann@yahoo.com

Contact your local consulate here:
http://www.mfa.gov.eg/MFA_Portal/en-GB/mfa_websits/

Contact the Palestine Division in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cairo
Ahmed Azzam, tel +202-25749682 Email: ahmed.azzam@mfa.gov.eg

In the U.S., contact the Egyptian Embassy, 202-895-5400 and ask for Omar Youssef or email omaryoussef@hotmail.co

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‘Whoever has Palestine in his heart is a Palestinian’ – Stories from Viva Palestina Convoy Members

Viva Palestina convoy participants have interesting stories to tell – Few of them are Palestinian, but they all say “Whoever has Palestine in his heart is a Palestinian.”

Gaza aid convoy, named “Return to Gaza,” have attended various events (over the past few days) in the Syrian capital Damascus. It has attracted extensive interest from Syrians.

Şakir Yıldırım, 40, bought an ambulance on his own in Bristol and managed to take it to Gaza overland last year. He is now taking a trailer to Gaza along the convoy. Yıldırım set up an association in Bristol called Gazze Link. He and his friends purchased a trailer and four vehicles with the money they raised.

“Intention is very important. I am sure about this now,” he said as he was talking about the trip to Gaza.

Yusuf, a Palestinian, set off from Texas, the United States, to go to Gaza. With the money he collected in Texas he will buy a vehicle and relief materials in Egypt and take them to Palestine, where he was born. The Israeli occupation forced him to leave his country and move to Lebanon and to the US. He flew to Istanbul and joined the convoy there.

“I will meet my relatives when I reach Palestine. I am away from them but I have never forgotten them and Palestine. I grew up with them and I am a Palestinian. In my opinion, you are Palestinian too. You do not have to have been born there. Whoever has opened his heart to Palestine is a Palestinian,” he said.

Al-Quds-born Talal Abdulrashed said: “I am coming from Britain. I am a Palestinian. We set off from Britain to break the embargo. Allah willing we will reach Gaza. Israel drove us from our land in 1982. We moved from Lebanon to Britain. I have relatives in al-Quds.”

Lia Lewelyn, 55, is driving an ambulance. She is a British Jew coming from London. She expressed her feelings as: “There are many Jews who oppose Israel’s war politics regarding Palestine. I am one of them. I do not know whether we will be able to enter Gaza or not, but I believe we will put huge pressure on Egypt and Israel through media and public. I cannot say Israeli pressure is tied to religion. It is entirely acting by colonization logic. I am worried about forefronting religion in such policies. We hit roads to end a six-decade war. God willing we will succeed.”

“I was very touched by the brutality of the latest Gaza attacks. I even got sick with sadness and deteriorated psychologically. Later I started searching for ways to help and learnt about the convoy. I am a pharmacology expert. I am not a Muslim, but it upsets me that most of wars, oppressions take place in the Islamic world,” said Sam Rez, who joined the convoy in London.

The next stop of the convoy is Jordan.

———————
Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469
Email: alice@vivapalestina.org
Website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/

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