Pressure mounts as Egypt threaten to halt delegation at Rafah border with Gaza.
Proinsias De Rossa MEP and Prof. Noam Chomsky have pledged their support to four teams from across Ireland who are traveling 4,000 miles across land to Gaza in Palestine to deliver ambulances and humanitarian aid to the besieged people of what yesterday Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin described as, "an open prison".
Concerned Irish citizens from Cork, Derry, Dublin, Galway and Tyrone are bringing two ambulances, a mini-bus, and a truck filled with over 10 tonnes of humanitarian aid. The Irish participants decided to abandon their Christmas celebrations and family gatherings in Ireland this year because they feel so strongly about what is happening in Gaza.
On 27 December, more Irish citizens – including members of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) – will fly out to Cairo to meet up with the Irish convoy participants. Together, they will attempt to enter Gaza and, on 31 December, will join thousands of Gazans and Internationals on the ‘Gaza Freedom March.
Speaking last night at a report-back on a recent MEPs' trip to Palestine, Labour Party MEP Proinsias De Rossa pledged his support to the Irish civilians who are giving up their Christmas plans in Ireland to travel to Gaza to take part in the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina Convoy.
Mr De Rossa said,
"I am delighted that these Irish people are going. It is extremely important that we demonstrate our support through action. The people of Gaza have very little hope. These brave Irish people who are going to Gaza this Christmas are keeping a glimmer of hope alive by going there. I support them on both a political and humanitarian level. They are helping to ensure that the worst does not happen. By actions like these, we can create the dynamic for peace."
Tyrone man, John Hurson is leaving today (22/12/09) to travel to Jordan where he will join the 200+ vehicles on the "Viva Palestina Convoy". From there they will travel through Egypt, and cross into Gaza on the 27th of December.
This will be John's second time to take part in an overland convoy of aid organised by "Viva Palestina", the first having successfully delivered 125 vehicles loaded with essential humanitarian aid in March of this year.
The aid he brought has been some of the only Irish aid to reach Gaza this year. Not only did John deliver essential aid, but he has since set up the first GAA club in Gaza.
The club has Professor Noam Chomsky and GAA legend Peter Canavan as presidents, and as part of the aid travelling on this convoy, the GAA have donated goalposts, jerseys, and training video's for the children in Gaza who have taken up the sport of Gaelic games.
Professor Chomsky gave this message of support to John before he left to join the convoy,
"I wish you the best on the journey. It's marvellous what you've been doing. I hope Egypt won't close the border, as I half expect. A lot of thoughts will be with...you, and a lot of admiration and hope. Mine too, I don't have to say."
The IPSC has learned that, using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed organisers yesterday that the Rafah crossing from Egypt to Gaza will be closed over the coming weeks. There are always tensions at the border because of the siege, and although we consider this as a setback, it is something they have encountered and overcome before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final okay before arriving at the Rafah border, but after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.
Therefore, the IPSC urges everyone to contact the Egyptian embassy asking them to allow the 1,300 international delegates to enter the Gaza Strip through Egypt.
Haider Eid, a member of the Gaza Freedom March organising committee, said today,
"Inside Gaza, excitement over this event is growing. Representatives from all segments of civil society, including students, professors, refugee groups, trade unions, women's organisations and NGOs, are busy organizing and estimate that at least 50,000 Palestinians will participate."
Mr Eid continued, "We are moved by the tremendous response to this march and are heartened that the global community has not forgotten us."
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