Viva Palestina update – convoy blocked by Egypt on Xmas day
No Christmas Cheer from Egyptian Authorities, 25th December 2009
The Viva Palestina website account below is followed by a personal account from John Hurson, stranded in Aqaba, Jordan
The Egyptian government has denied entry to the Viva Palestina Aid Convoy carrying medical and humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Hundreds of tonnes of aid, including specialised medical equipment and powdered milk for babies, is now stockpiled in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba waiting for permission to enter Egypt via the Straits of Aqaba.
The international convoy of approximately 150 vehicles and more than 400 people from 17 countries was given the news by the Egyptian Consulate in Aqaba late on Christmas Eve.
British MP George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said “We feel very sad that Egypt has turned us away on Christmas Day, but we hope they will reconsider. This is a very determined convoy and we’re not going anywhere except to Gaza.”
The convoy, jointly organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK, left London on 6th December. It has enjoyed safe passage through Europe, Turkey, Syria and Jordan on its way to Gaza.
It hopes to enter Gaza and break Israel’s three and a half year illegal blockade of the Strip via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on 27th December.
The date marks the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s three week land, air and sea assault on Gaza, which killed more than 1400 Palestinians.
John Hurson, stranded in Aqaba, Jordan
Well folks, as you awake today from your Christmas hangover, over 500 people from 20 countries, in 250 vehicles loaded with Humanitarian Aid, are left stranded in Aqaba, Jordan, having been refused permission to enter Egypt. From Ireland, 10 volunteers in 2 ambulances, a van, and a truck loaded with Humanitarian Aid are part of this convoy. The convoy is organised by “Viva Palestina”, a charity founded by George Galloway, MP.
The Egyptian Government have placed 3 conditions on the convoy if it wants to enter Egypt.
1. We hand all our vehicles and aid over to UNRA.
2. We drive 500 miles back to Syria, and take a 24 hour ferry through the Suez Canal.
3. We have to ask Israel for permission to cross from Egypt to Gaza.
All 3 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 1st time, Egypt have now openly admitted that they are under control of Israel/US.
This has been the lead story on Al Jazeera for the past 24 hours, and there are media teams from all over the Arab world here in Aqaba following this story. Needless to say, everyone watching is totally outraged by Egypt’s complicity with Israel/US in denying this convoy of aid to reach Gaza. Needless to say, the western media have so far refused to cover this story.
Yesterday, Christmas Day, I dressed up as Santa to lighten the mood, and everyones sprirts lifted.
Al Jazeera interviewed Santa, who explained that the children in Gaza were the only ones in the whole world who didn’t recieve any presents. Santa explained that while flying through the air on his sleigh with the reindeers, he was stopped and refused entry. Santa was upset as this was the only place in the world he could not visit.
Tomorrow marks the 1st anniversary of the start of the 22 day massacre of over 1,400 people. In solidarity, we are all going to embark on a fast. We will all fast for as long as it takes for us to get into Gaza with our aid.
We are calling on people all over the world to fast with us, and with the Palestinians, who fast every day due to the illegal siege imposed upon them by Israel/US/Egypt.
It’s time to take a stand and say “Enough Is Enough”. This siege has got to stop, for the sake of humanity, and our aid must be allowed to reach the stricken people in Gaza.
I am calling on you to contact the Egyptian Embassy and demand that we be allowed to enter Gaza, and deliver our aid.
The contact details for the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin are: +353-1-6606718 / +353-1-6606566
The contact details for the Egyptian Embassy in London are: 0044-20-7499-3304
Please contact them, and express your outrage at their refusal to allow Humanitarian Aid into Gaza, and to let them know that you will never travel to Egypt again, as long as they are the lap dogs for Israel/US.
Please forward this message on to everyone you know, and ask them to do the same. Plus, please reply and leave a message of support for everyone who is stranded here in Aqaba, and for the Palestinians who need our support now, more than ever.
If you are a member of Facebook, please join the following “Ireland To Gaza” group for all the latest updates on our progress.