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

Date

December 27, 2009

Update on the Viva Palestina convoy

Joti Brar 26 December at 21:00 Reply
The Egyptians have placed three conditions on the convoy if it wants to enter Egypt.

1. We hand all our vehicles and aid over to UNWRA.

2. We drive 500 miles abck to Syria, and take a 24-hour ferry through the Suez Canal. (Actually, we would have to hire five boats, since the port of Al Ariesh couldn’t handle a boat big enough for the convoy.)

3. We have to ask Israel for permission to cross from Egypt to Gaza.

All three conditions have been flatly rejected by everyone on the convoy, as we want to cross into Gaza and hand our aid over to the Palestinians ourselves.

Would you phone Canada to ask permission to enter the US? Would you ask France for permission to go to Germany? For the first time, Egypt has now openly admitted that it is subject to control of Israel/US.

Urgent: take action for Gaza

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Ban Ki-Moon: Gaza reconstruction not being addressed

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said more must be done to repair damage done in the Gaza Strip by Israeli military action one year ago.
Mr Ban said Gazans were being denied “basic human rights” and urged Israel to end its “unacceptable and counterproductive blockade”.
He said Israeli well-being depended on conditions improving in the enclave.
Rallies are being held across Gaza to mark a year since the conflict, in which 1,400 Palestinians were killed.
In comments posted on the UN’s website, Mr Ban said he was “deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to this conflict nor its worrying aftermath are being addressed”.
He said that while levels of violence had been low in the past year, there was still no durable ceasefire after Operation Cast Lead and Gazans were “denied basic human rights”.
“The quality and quantity of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza is insufficient, broader economic and reconstruction activity is paralysed,” said Mr Ban.
‘Hopelessness’
Under Israel’s blockade of Gaza, only basic humanitarian supplies are allowed in, meaning Gazans have not been able to obtain materials to repair damaged homes, buildings and infrastructure.
The UN Relief and Works agency (UNRWA) in Gaza told the BBC that public health was suffering as a result of inadequate and unsanitary water supplies, and there had been a rise in infant mortality.

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said thousands of tonnes of sewage were being pumped into the sea every day, because material for rebuilding treatment plants and other facilities was so scarce.
An international humanitarian aid convoy of some 200 vehicles is hoping to mark the anniversary by delivering supplies to Gaza.
The convoy is currently in Jordan, awaiting permission to cross the Red Sea and proceed to Egypt.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, is holding 22 days of rallies to mark the anniversary.
Senior leader Ahmed Bahar said Gazans remained “steadfast” after the conflict
“The resistance, which defended its land with honour, was not broken,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.
Mr Ban called on Israel to end its blockade, uphold international law and make it possible for economic activity and civilian reconstruction to take place. He also urged Hamas to respect the law and bring an end to violence, and for all Palestinians to “work for unity”.
He said there was “a sense of hopelessness in Gaza today for 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are under 18” and that “a fundamentally different approach to Gaza is urgently required”.
“Their fate and the well-being of Israelis are intimately connected.”
The BBC’s Katya Adler in Gaza City said the mood on the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead was relatively quiet, but uneasy.
Both Israel and Palestinians in Gaza believe 2010 is bound to bring further violence, our correspondent adds.

See the article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8431652.stm

International Aid Convoy Members Prepare for Hunger Strike

Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a hunger strike at 11.25 am tomorrow (27th) in protest at the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil.

Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy’s entry to Egypt. IHH, Turkey’s main humanitarian aid agency, has 63 vehicles travelling on the convoy.

The Syrian government has also provided aid and vehicles, as has the government of Malaysia. More than 400 people from 17 countries are travelling on the 150 vehicle convoy, which is taking medical, humanitarian and educational aid to Gaza.

The convoy departed London on 6 December and have travelled nearly 3,000 miles across Europe and the Middle East. However, the convoy and its cargo of aid is now stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into Egypt.

British MP, George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said: ‘Israel has kept Gaza under siege for three-and-half years against international law. It has not allowed aid or rebuilding materials in following its attack on Gaza earlier this year. Our convoy is determined to break the siege and take in urgently needed supplies Spirits are high in our camp in Aqaba, and we are going nowhere except to Gaza.’

It was at 11.25 am on December 27 2008, that Israel dropped its first bombs on the besieged population of Gaza. Three weeks later, following a sustained air, land and sea assault, more than 1,400 Palestinians had been killed.

The Viva Palestina hunger strikers will consume only liquids until the convoy is allowed entry into Egypt.

Convoy members will also mark the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead by holding a march through Aqaba, jointly with the Jordanians. In the evening, more than 1,400 candles will be lit for a vigil.

The convoy has been jointly organised by the charity Viva Palestina and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the UK’s largest organisation campaigning for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Ends

For more information on Viva Palestina and updates visit http://www.vivapalestina.org

Press information from Alice Howard on Tel: 07944 512 469 or via email: alice@vivapalestina.org

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

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