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Viva Palestina

Viva Palestina Arrives In Gaza

Lifeline 5, the fifth aid convoy organized by the UK-based charity Viva Palestina, has crossed Rafah, the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
http://www.vivapalestina.org/home.htm

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VIVA PALESTINA CONVOY BREAKS SIEGE AND ENTERS GAZA TO JUBILANT CROWDS



The Viva Palestina convoy of almost 150 vehicles, 370 people from 30 different countries and $5 million of aid has entered Gaza. 

Amidst scenes of jubilation from thousands of Palestinians there to greet the convoy, Kevin Ovenden, the convoy director, expressed his joy at being in Gaza once again. “We have driven more than 3,000 miles to bring this essential aid and to break this illegal siege of Gaza. We have been joined by supporters from Morocco and Algeria and from the Gulf States and Jordan, to make this the biggest convoy ever to break the siege of Gaza. We are absolutely overjoyed to be here and to bring with us the soil from the graves of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara which will be used to plant trees as a memorial to their sacrifice.”

The convoy set out four weeks and five days ago from London. It travelled through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria. Everywhere the reception was fantastic and the generosity of well-wishers unsurpassed. Towards the end there was a frustrating delay in Syria whilst negotiations at the highest levels were conducted with the Egyptian authorities. In the end it was all worth it as the Egyptian authorities decided to allow passage of the whole convoy, sadly excluding just 17 members of the convoy including George Galloway.

The convoy will be handed over in its entirety to the relevant bodies tomorrow and the members of the convoy then expect to leave Gaza and return home in the next 48 hours after celebrations and formal thanks are given.


Viva Palestina convoy reaches Gaza

Pro-Palestinian activists enter Gaza through Rafah crossing with $5m of aid for residents of Israeli-blockaded strip.
Hundreds of peace activists have arrived in Gaza carrying humanitarian supplies [Reuters]

Pro-Palestinian activists in more than 100 cars and trucks have crossed into the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip through Egypt’s Rafah crossing with aid worth nearly $5m.

The multinational “Viva Palestina” ship arrived at Egypt’s port city of al-Arish from Lattakia, Syria, earlier on Thursday.

About 300 activists then flew into al-Arish airport and converged with the ship’s passengers before entering Gaza.

The activists had initially joined up in Syria from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and more than two dozen other countries.

The convoy, which was organised by George Galloway, a British politician, originally departed from London on September 18 and arrived in Syria two weeks later.

The activists then waited for over two weeks in Lattakia for permission from the Egyptian authorities for the shipment, which includes medical supplies and school equipment, to be allowed to enter al-Arish port.

The aid does not include any building materials, which the Egyptian authorities did not allow, as part of the agreement permitting the activists to enter Gaza for three days.

Israel has kept Gaza under a blockade since 2007, saying it is a necessary step to stop arms reaching the Hamas group running the strip.

Several dozen survivors from the Israeli attack on May 31 on the Turkish aid ship the Mavi Marmara were among those in the “Viva Palestina” convoy.

‘Summary executions’

Israeli commandos killed nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists when they boarded the Mavi Marmara, the main vessel in a ‘Freedom Flotilla’ also attempting to deliver aid to Gaza.

Israel’s leaders said their troops opened fire in self-defence after being set upon by activists.

However, a UN inquiry last month found that Israeli troops broke international law by boarding the flotilla and found that the killings of activists on-board were comparable to “summary executions”.

After an international outcry over the Mavi Marmara raid, Israel relaxed its embargo but construction materials remain restricted.

Gazans have limited freedom of movement and Israel still enforces its naval blockade.

Viva Palestina 5 vehicles boarding ship to Egypt

AID CONVOY SET TO SAIL FOR GAZA

14th October 2010

After a tense ten day stand off in Syria, the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza has now been cleared to sail.

The convoy started out from London on Saturday 18th September and drove down through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before arriving in the port of Latakia, Syria, on Saturday 2nd October. In Latakia, the convoy has been joined by two other convoys. One came from Morocco and Algeria, the other originated in Doha and came through the Gulf states and Jordan.

There are now 147 vehicles about to board two ships together with 380 people from some 30 countries stretching from New Zealand and Australia to Canada and the United States carrying aid worth some 5 million dollars. This includes 40 people who were on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which was attacked by Israeli commandos murdering ten human rights activists from Turkey.

Over the last ten days in Syria, the convoy has taken on medical supplies urgently needed in the besieged Gaza Strip. Simultaneously negotiations have been conducted with the Egyptian authorities to allow passage into the port of Al Arish and then on to the Rafah Crossing. The support of the Syrian authorities and others has been vital in the successful negotiations.

Last night word finally came through that the Egyptian authorities would allow the ships to dock, unload and passage through to the Rafah Crossing and Gaza would be guaranteed.

The ships will now sail past the place where the Mavi Marmara was attacked and flowers will be laid in memory of the victims. When the convoy reaches Gaza the soil from the graves of some of those who were murdered will be used to plant trees as a memorial to the Mavi Marmara victims.

The convoy hopes to reach Gaza this Saturday or Sunday.

Viva Palestina 5 in Italy.

Viva Palestina 5 Convoy Log


Monday 20th September

The convoy was welcomed in the city of Vaulx-en-Velin, adjacent to Lyon, by the mayor, M Bernard Genin. The city has the distinction of being the only one in France to fly the Palestinian flag.

But not if the French government gets its way. The regional prefect, responsible for the central government administration of the area, has told the city that the flag has to come down.

‘I’ve written back to him to say that he’s welcome to try,’ responded the mayor, ‘if he can fight his way through the mass crowds who will defend it.’

The convoy left Paris early – the muster was 6am – after another night on the floor of the gymnasium. Most of the 85 had less than four hours sleep, but the road south was mainly motorway and the group, split into three elements, arrived at a service station outside Lyon shortly after 1pm. After a quick lunch provided by local supporters the convoy moved off first to the Hotel de Ville (town hall) in an ear-splitting cacophony of noise, horns honking and the sirens of the two Swedish ambulances screaming.

After the meeting with the mayor the convoy moved off again to the main square in Lyon, the Place Bellecour, parking the 36 vehicles in the middle of it and setting up a stage and amplification for a rally. Hundreds of people crowded around, dozens of postcards and posters were handed out and the organisers had to rebuff the appeals of dozens of people to come on the convoy to Gaza.

After another meal provided by VP local volunteers the convoyers were put up in a hotel, the first time they has slept on a mattress, between clean sheets since they set out.

Watch Press TV report on Convoy in Paris on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opgaEe34hG0
Watch convoy at La Place de La Bastille in Paris at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjVzDoujqOk

Registration now open for the next convoy to Gaza


Registration for the new convoy, Viva Palestina 5 – a Global Lifeline to Gaza, is now live. The VP team has put a lot of work into reviewing everyone’s feedback from the previous three successful convoys, and from the Freedom Flotilla, in order to make this next convoy even more effective. So even if you have taken part before, please read through the application process (links at bottom of page) carefully. There are, for example, new procedures governing registration and controls on finance and aid.

The challenges are immense – the government of Israel, and others, remain committed to this siege on the Palestinian people. But the chance to make decisive progress is better now than at any time in the last three years. The blockade is weakening, though that has come at the enormous price of the loss of nine aid volunteers aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was so brutally attacked. Many governments and major NGOs are now calling for an end to the blockade.

Ending this illegal and immoral siege is going to require a huge effort from all those who care about Palestine. It is also going to need strategic cooperation between the international aid efforts.

That’s why Viva Palestina has agreed to launch this convoy after extensive discussions with partners in Gaza and internationally, aimed at maximising rather than duplicating our efforts.

It is hoped that a new, bigger, more international flotilla will head off for Gaza at around the same time as the land convoy is there. In any case, Viva Palestina 5 will be the biggest convoy yet, with three legs – from London, from Casablanca and from Doha, converging at Al Arish.

We are asking you to get behind the convoy in whatever way you can – going on it, providing a vehicle, fundraising, promoting it and helping to ensure widespread public awareness as it travels.

The aid we are taking will be of the highest quality. The people of Gaza deserve nothing less and we have clear lists of what is needed from those who are working on the ground and who know first hand.

We aim to take some of all the different categories of humanitarian relief required in Gaza. And, of course, by doing so we aim to highlight the unjust and unsustainable siege.

Enthusiasm for this convoy is very high and we anticipate it filling up quickly. Already, support is coming in from new areas, such as major trade unions in the UK, and new coalitions to build the VP5 convoy are forming in many countries – from New Zealand to Morocco and Italy.

We are very grateful for your ongoing support for the people of Palestine and for Viva Palestina’s efforts.

There are many ways you can help, including volunteering to be part of the teams working on aid, fundraising, vehicles and so on.

Please feel free to contact us with your ideas. But don’t delay, we have eight weeks to make a major contribution to ending the suffering in the Gaza Strip and moving a step closer to justice for the Palestinian people.

To read more about the convoy, please click here – http://www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/intro.html

For details on how to register, please click here – http://www.vivapalestina.org/vp5/register.html

Galloway announces new land and sea convoys to break the siege of Gaza

Speaking at a demonstration in London yesterday (5th June) which organisers estimated to be more than 20,000 strong, George Galloway announced new land and sea convoys to break the siege of Gaza.

“After extensive discussion in Istanbul,” said Galloway, “I can announce that a land convoy will leave Britain shortly after the end of Ramadan in September this year and travel through Europe, down through Turkey and Syria into Jordan. We will ask the Egyptian government then to ensure passage from the port of Aqaba to Rafah and into Gaza.

“At exactly the same time a flotilla of boats will be leaving to tour the countries of the Mediterranean before heading for Gaza.

“These combined sea and land convoys will be co-coordinated by Viva Palestina with other organisations in Britain and with our friends throughout the Middle East and in Turkey.”

For more information please contact Alice Howard at Viva Palestina on 07889 726777 or Rob Hoveman on 07507 600561

———————
Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK
Tel: +447889726777
Email: alice@vivapalestina.org
Website: http://www.vivapalestina.org/
Sign up to the Viva Palestina Mailing List http://www.vivapalestina.org/alert.htm

Viva Palestina, helping to make the positive steps in breaking the siege of Gaza!

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