Viva Palestina Update: Gaza aid convoy to change course

28 December, 2009 — Viva Palestina

gaza-egypt.jpgEgypt accused the French protesters of lying and trying to embarrass it [AFP]

Organisers of Viva Palestina aid convoy, which is trying to reach the Gaza Strip, have now agreed to go via Syria en route for Egypt.

The agreement came after a Turkish mediator reached a deal with the Egyptian consul in Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba.

The convoy will now head to the Syrian port of Latakia to sail from there to the Egyptian port of El Arish, and then to Gaza.

Viva-Palestina which have been stranded in Aqaba for five days is led by George Galloway, a British MP.

Turkey dispatched an official on Saturday to try convince the Egyptians to allow the convoy to go through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, the most direct route to Gaza after Egypt insisted that the convoy can only enter through El-Arish, on its Mediterranean coast.

Viva Palestina and another convoy, The Gaza Freedom March, were planning to arrive on Sunday to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel’s war on Gaza that killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Meanwhile, at least 300 French participants of the Gaza Freedom March spent the night camped out in front of their embassy in Cairo, bringing a major road in the Egyptian capital to a halt as riot police wielding plexiglass shields surrounded them.

Egypt angry

Hossam Zaki, an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, accused the French protesters of lying and trying to embarrass Egypt.

In depth

‘Fighting to break Gaza siege’
Video: Gaza aid held up in Jordan

“They claimed they had aid to carry to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is a lie,” the MENA news agency quoted Zaki as saying.

“They want media exposure and to pressure and embarrass Egypt,” he said.

On Sunday, police briefly detained 38 international participants in the Sinai town of El-Arish, organisers said.

“At noon (1000 GMT) on December 27, Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 activists in their hotel in El-Arish as they prepared to leave for Gaza, placing them under house arrest.

“Another group of eight people, including American, British, Spanish, Japanese and Greek citizens, were detained at the bus station of El-Arish in the afternoon of December 27,” they said.

On Sunday, Egyptian police also stopped some 200 protesters from renting boats on the Nile to hold a procession to commemorate those who died in the Gaza war.

On December 31, participants are hoping to join Palestinians “in a non-violent march from northern Gaza to the Erez-Israeli border,” the organisers said.

Source: Agencies

Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469

Viva Palestina members start hunger strike

28 December, 2009 — Viva Palestina

Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy heading to the blockaded Gaza Strip have made the decision to go on hunger strike in protest at the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow the convoy entry into its territory.

“Volunteers on the convoy are on a hunger strike and will only take fluids until the Egyptian side gives them the nod,” said the convoy’s press officer, Alice Howard.

She said the hunger strike began at 11:25 on Sunday, marking the first bombs Israel dropped on the besieged population of Gaza on December 27, 2008.

Israel’s relentless three-week offensive against Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009 left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, according to medical sources. The Israeli assault also led to the destruction of schools, mosques, and houses as well as UN compounds, inflicting $1.6 billion damage on the Gaza economy.

The Viva Palestina aid convoy has been stranded in Aqaba, Jordan since Christmas Eve, when Egyptian authorities prohibited the convoy from docking at the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy’s entry into Egypt.

“Israel has kept Gaza under siege for three and a 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,” said British MP George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy.

The third international convoy to Gaza departed from London on December 5, 2009. The convoy is made up of volunteers from Britain, Ireland, Belgium, and Malaysia who have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in their local communities to pay for ambulances, minibuses, vans, and lorries and to fill them with medical and other aid that is desperately needed in Gaza.

The Viva Palestina convoy was organized to direct the world’s attention to the fact that Israeli war criminals committed horrendous crimes in Gaza as well as to the courageous Palestinian resistance.

What is the Aim of the Gaza Freedom March? By Bianca Zammit

23 December, 2009 — Palestine Chronicle

ny-gaza.jpgThe March is the first mass mobilization of this size since 1967. (Photo: Ahmad Shirazi)

As the days of December 2009 draw in, two events which each have a role to play in world peace draw closer. The first is on the 27th and is commemorating the start of the 22 day attacks on Gaza, an operation which targeted unarmed civilians, schools, hospitals, journalists and emergency staff. The second, The Gaza Freedom March will take place on the 31st. The Gaza Freedom March is a historic moment, the magnitude of which has not been seen in Palestine since 1967. Chiseled on the lessons learnt from South Africa’ struggle for liberation against apartheid and from Gandhi’ Satyagraha approach during the campaign for India’ independence, the Gaza Freedom March is walking in the same shoes.

In order to find out more about the Gaza Freedom March I met up with Dr. Haidar Eid, a member of the Steering Committee for the March in Gaza.

What is the aim of the Gaza Freedom March?

The goal of the Gaza Freedom March is to commemorate Gaza 2009. In January 2009 right after the end of operation Cast Lead we were all faced again by the deadly hermitic siege. The March is calling for an end to this siege.

Continue reading

Viva Palestina Update

28 December, 2009

Sent: (from Cairo) on Monday, December 28, 2009 6:21 PM

Hi everyone, GMS Bulletin #3. It is proving harder than I thought to fit in writing these bulletins in a timely fashion.

Yesterday was a great day. We went down to a major bridge across the Nile and tied cards of remembrance and flowers to the bridge railings. These were removed almost immediately by the police who follow us everywhere. It is evident that there are spies at our meetings. The police challenged us to move on, but in a very restrained manner. It is obvious that at this stage they are treating internationals with kid gloves, unlike their own nationals.

It is theoretically forbidden to gather in groups of more than 6. However we have found that in greater numbers we can prevail. We had planned yesterday to hire small boats on the nile and float 1400 candles in memory of the people killed in Gaza last year. A good photo op for the media. An easy gentle media event that should not push the police prohibitions. But the police would not allow it. So there we were, all gathered 1400 of us, and we began a strong loud street demo. It was wonderful – songs in a variety of languages. Banners (forbidden) were unfurled. Silly buggars, if they had let us use the boats, there would have been just a few boats and candles floating down the Nile. But they still treated us with kid gloves.

The authorities have prevented us hiring buses to go to AL Arish as planned for today. Various groups have gone on ahead but have been arrested at Al Arish.

As well as the Gaza freedom march, there are a number of other groups operating independently but co-ordinating together: The French have been successful in getting the co-operation of their Embassy to help get them buses., there are the Spanish and a whole lot of other groups. It is all wonderfully fluid and anarchic. I cannot praise the women of Code Pink highly enough. They are all very experienced operators, operating in the best feminist model, facilitative, clear, not top down like the traditional left, male models. Very competent and nurturing, no bloody ego – yay!

Well it looks as if I will be able to get this sent to you as I write.



received for forwarding at 18:40 hrs Monday. Max Watts

Gaza March (convoy) group organised by/with Brit MP George Galloway is at writing blocked in Akaba (Jordan). They are being prevented from entering Egypt through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba by ferry, and are arguing the toss at present. The Egyptian proposal to go thru the Suez Canal to Al Arish in Northern Egypt is a not very disguised refusal… Egypt working for Israeli and US governments?

Viva Palestina: Urgent Action Needed

28 December, 2009 — Viva Palestina

Viva Palestina is a UK charity; some of the supplies are rotting at the Aqaba crossing. Please write urgently (in addition to the Egyptian embassies in London and Dublin) to the British embassy in Cairo, David Miliband etc. Nur

Egyptian Embassy in Dublin: +353-1-6606718 / +353-1-6606566 /

The contact details for the Egyptian Embassy in London: 0044-20-7499-3304 / (Consulate:

Your local MP:

David Miliband (Foreign Secretary) – (0191) 456

Nick Clegg (Leader of Lib Dems) –

British Embassy in Egypt Tel: +(20)(2)27916000

Please email the Egyptian Embassy (copy this to your MP and Foreign Secretary, David Miliband) on the following lines:

Your Excellency,

I am writing to urge your assistance to ensure that the people of Gaza receive the medical aid which British and European citizens have worked hard to provide for the Palestinian people suffering under Israeli siege in the Gaza Strip.

We understand that the Egyptian government is imposing conditions on the Viva Palestina/ Palestine Solidarity Convoy of 210 aid vehicles which make it impossible for them to leave Aqaba to deliver the ambulances packed with medical aid and the aid trucks with food and educational materials.

As you may be aware, Viva Palestina is a UK registered charity that was formed earlier this year to provide humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza . The two previous convoys, which entered Gaza via Eqypt in March and February this year, successfully delivered hundreds of tonnes of desperately needed aid through the Rafah crossing.

Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur stated on 18.12.09

“Two urgent priorities must be stressed on this dismal anniversary: first, Israel’s allies must demand, with a commitment reinforced by a credible threat of economic sanctions, that Israel immediately end its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. Second, the Goldstone Report’s recommendations, having confirmed the commission of war crimes possibly amounting to Crimes Against Humanity, by Israel and Hamas, must be fully and swiftly implemented.”

Alas, the Egyptian government appears to be aiding Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

We appeal to you to convey our demand to the Egyptian authorities that the convoy be allowed to travel to Gaza through Egypt and to the Rafah crossing to show the Palestinian people there that they are not forgotten by people of conscience across the world.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Tel: 020 7700 6192
Fax: 020 7609 7779

Viva Palestina: It is very late. Chaos around the French Embassy. Roads blocked …

28 December, 2009

No I do not need legal assistance as yet … Others are organizing things for various delegations … The worst that is happening to internationals is hotel arrest … No one has been deported yet. We came here to go to Gaza and that is my focus …

The thing tonight with the journalists syndicate was horrifying but we are all safe … This worry is that this is the start of things … No wonder the people of Egypt are submissive … This is a brutal dictatorship and
Mubarak is a fraud. This is no Arab! The horror is the immediate isolation of anything that looks like political autonomy … I really do not think anyone could be unsure about this miserable system after all this … How dare this government say they support Palestine. Palestine is a question of justice and there is no justice here! This is a government of toadies …

There is this horrendous system that keeps everyone in their place. There is no coherence to it … It is the logic of checkpoints: good days / bad days … no one has the slightest control over their life … this is nothing close to a democracy.

My worry now that something else may be going on in Gaza. Leaflets being dropped in Gaza. There is too much going on for it to be just about us and our trying to get into Gaza … Will they start deporting us?

What ever else get news circulating about Viva Palestina. They are really getting the worst of it … They have come all this way with wonderful receptions and then they get to the ferry crossing and Egypt begins its games …

Keith Hammond:

George Galloway, a UK politician who is leading the convoy, tells Al Jazeera why the group must be allowed to proceed

26 December, 2009 — Al Jazeera


George Galloway, a UK politician who is leading the convoy, tells Al Jazeera why the group must be allowed to proceed:

It was Christmas Day but there was no room at the Inn for the weary travellers.

Turned away by the Arab Republic of Egypt, the 500 members of the Viva Palestina Convoy to Gaza spent Christmas in a car park in Aqaba.

The last time so many Turks, Arabs and British were together in this town they were fighting the first World War against each other.

Now, they are fighting to break through the siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In video Gaza aid held up in Jordan

There will be time enough afterwards to review everyone’s role in the sorry Christmas story but for now I am appealing to anyone and everyone to help us reach Gaza.

Our medicines are in a race against the time of their expiry date and are spoiling in the desert sun, whilst people in Gaza die for the want of them.

The government of Turkey and the respected Premier [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan are trying their best, as is the former prime minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as well as the wife of the current prime minister in Kuala Lumpur.

I have written to Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan asking her to contact Madame Susan Mubarak who as well as being first lady of Egypt is the head of the Egyptian Red Crescent, to see if it is testosterone that’s the problem.

The facts are these: more than 200 trucks and 500 people from 17 different countries gave up their Christmas holidays to try to help one and a half million Arabs and Muslims in Gaza.

We are four hours away, across the Red Sea from approaching Rafah.

An Arab government will not allow us. The question is: What are 300 million Arabs going to do about this continued slow, quiet massacre of their brothers behind the wire?

Alice Howard
Viva Palestina UK – Administration Manager
Tel: 07944 512 469

Gaza aid held-up in Jordan

26 December, 2009 — Al Jazeera

Since June 2007 Gaza has been under a crippling blockade with few essential goods making it through. Now an aid convoy of 250 trucks and ambulances is attempting to reach the Strip to deliver much needed supplies. But a bureaucratic argument with Egypt is holding it back in Aqaba in southwest Jordan. Al Jazeera’s Clayton Swisher reports.

more about “Gaza aid held-up in Jordan“, posted with vodpod

Total racism, total war By Saleh Al-Naami

28 December, 2009 — Al-Ahram Weekly Online

On the first anniversary of Israel’s war on Gaza, shocking revelations are appearing on the methods and reasoning behind the war, writes Saleh Al-Naami

gaza-woman.jpgC a p t i o n : A Palestinian woman walks past buildings destroyed during Israel’s 22-day offensive in Gaza which was launched on 27 December. On the anniversary of the tragic slaughter of Palestinians by Israelis, the world remembers that no less than 30,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed during the Israeli onslaught, which killed more than 1,400 people

Mahmoud Hussein tries to hold back his tears as he looks at his 30-year-old brother Ahmed who suffers from colon cancer. The family is impatiently waiting for the Gaza border to open so Ahmed can travel abroad for treatment, since in light of the Israeli imposed siege, medical facilities in Gaza cannot treat his condition. Ahmed, who lives in Gabalya, north of Gaza, is not the only Palestinian who developed cancer at a relatively young age.

According to Palestinian medical sources, the number of patients with cancerous tumours residing in areas that the Israeli army targeted during its war on Gaza is on the rise. As the first anniversary of the war on Gaza approaches, the Palestinians are shocked to discover more of its damaging effects. A Palestinian woman whose house in the district of Al-Shaaf, east of Gaza City was targeted with white phosphorous missiles gave birth to a baby with a deformed heart. Doctors reported another pregnant woman in north Gaza, whose home was attacked with the same chemical agent, gave birth to a baby with the same deformity.

Continue reading

Hunger strike of activists in Egypt for Gaza, Palestine By John Hurson

27 December, 2009 — International Hunger Strike Press Release

viva-pal-strike.jpgSunday December 27th marks the anniversary of the attack on Gaza by Israel, which left over 1,400 people dead, and over 5,000 injured in 22 days.

At 11 35 am, the time of the first attack, a group of humanitarians on the “Viva Palestina Convoy” will embark on an International Hunger Strike in the main square in Aqaba, Jordan.

The International Hunger Strike will aim to highlight the ongoing illegal siege imposed on Gaza, and to remember the victims of the attacks who died during the 22 day bombardment by Israel.

This International Hunger Strike will also highlight the refusal by Egypt, under Israeli pressure, to allow the humanitarian aid to reach the people in Gaza.

The convoy has been stranded in the city for 3 days now, having been refused permission to enter Egypt on their way to Gaza. There are 500 people from no less than 20 different countries in 250 vehicles loaded with charitable humanitarian aid. The convoy is been led by leading international politician George Galloway, having left London on December 6th.

Embarking on the International Hunger Strike are 15 people from different continents across the world. Among those taking part are Fatima Mohammidi from the United States, John Hurson and Caoimhe Butterly from Ireland, Ahasan Shamruk from Palestine, Nidal Hajaj, Hanan Chehata and Mohammed Shakiel from England, plus Kamal Mashni from Australia among others.

Each day, 15 more people from the convoy will join in the International Hunger Strike, and they will go without food until the convoy is allowed to enter safely into Egypt, and through the Rafah border to Gaza.

Speaking from Aqaba, Ahasan Shamruk, said, “I am joining this Hunger Strike to draw attention to the fact that the siege is a form of collective, sustained, and devastating punishment of 1.5 million civilian people. As we commemorate the first year anniversary of the massacres, it is important to remember, that for my brothers and sisters living under siege in Gaza, the war has not ended.”

John Hurson, from Tyrone, who traveled on the first “Viva Palestina Convoy”, decided to join the International Hunger Strike to draw attention to the fact that nothing has changed in the past year following the attacks.

John said, “from my time spent in Gaza, to think that in the year 2009, people are denied all the basic essentials in life, like water, electricity, medicine, blankets, books, and even footballs for the children, is just unbelievable and unacceptable.

“For Egypt to prevent this compassionate and charitable aid, donated by ordinary caring people from all over the world, unnecessarily adds to the hardships currently endured on a daily basis, by the besieged and distressed people in Gaza.

I am hopeful that the leaders of the West will exert their influence, put pressure on Egypt, the United States, and Israel to end this inhuman blockade forced upon Gaza, and allow for the safe passage of this essential humanitarian aid. Enough is enough, this has to end now, for the sake of humanity.”