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Viva Palestina Convoy, inc Irish, attacked by police in Egypt / Convoy due to reach Gaza today

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Wednesday January 06, 2010 15:09author by Kev - IPSC (pers cap) Report this post to the editors

# Viva Palestina Convoy, including Irish citizens, attacked by police in Egypt

# Over 40 activists injured, including 6 Irish / seven arrested

# Convoy due to reach Gaza later today, after deal

Some 2,000 Egyptian riot police last night (Tuesday 5th Jan) violently attacked the international Viva Palestina Convoy as it waited in a holding compound in Al-Arish port, near the Gazan border. While the cause of the violence is still unclear, reports say that plainclothes Egyptian police arrived and began to hurl rocks and stones at the compound and that this was followed by an attack by the riot police.

Scenes shown on Turkish television[1] showed riot police batoning people in the compound, and many people with blood flowing from head wounds. At least one person was reported hospitalised, while over 40 people are said to have sustained injuries, mostly cuts and bruising. Convoy members say they are reluctant to get treatment without guarantees of safe passage.

All five members of the Derry to Gaza team, and one man from Cork received light, but painful, injuries. All other members of the Irish delegations from Cork and Tyrone are unharmed, but obviously shaken by the whole experience.

Jonathon Crockett, a member of the Derry to Gaza team, said this last night: “Outsiders arrived armed with sticks and stones entered the compound and attacked the members and were joined by Egyptian police squad.”

Mr. Crockett, continued: “Things have been at an impasse for too long. We just came for the people of Gaza and we are still not there after more than 4 weeks. Still no matter who goes home, we will show patience and wait at least until Sunday to see what transpires. But definitely, this morning we are disappointed and have no sight of what the future holds.”

Cork to Gaza member Kate O’Sullivan’s father, Michael, last night posted the following message on Facebook: “Kate and Dave are with Irish crew and ok... some of the Derry lads were attacked... confrontation was all planned and programmed as Viva Palestina wouldn’t give non medical vehicles to Israeli control...Egyptian negotiator left... police attacked immediately same as they attacked Gaza marchers...full out assault... people injured… hiding from police attack... very serious... treachery… Egyptian media was calling them all Muslim brotherhood... orchestrated assault”

John Hurson, a member of the Tyrone to Gaza team said: “All quiet now and all Irish crew are fine, when they closed off car park people got real angry, some threw stones and they got a battering, cuts & bruises, lasted about 10 minutes."

Irish people are available for interview via phone:

John Hurson - 0044 7875 396 335

Kate O'Sullivan - 085 779 1640
Dave Carroll – 085 141 5213

Seven members of the convoy were arrested by the police, three Britons, two Americans, a Malaysian and a Kuwaiti. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu contacted his Egyptian counterpart Ahmad Aboul Gheit with a request to release the international activists who were detained.

The attack was apparently a response to members of the Viva Palestina aid convoy - which is bringing vital humanitarian and medical supplies to Gaza - staging a peaceful protest over Egyptian demands that all non-medical vehicles – 55 of them - enter Gaza via Israel and not through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing. George Galloway MP, who is a leader of the convoy, said: “We refused this because it's a breach of the agreement which we reached in Aqaba between the government of Egypt and the Turkish side".

Mr. Galloway continued: "It is completely unconscionable that 25 percent of our convoy should go to Israel and never arrive in Gaza, because nothing that goes to Israel ever arrives in Gaza."

However, faced with no choice, Viva Palestina say that they will now have to concede to this Egyptian demand in order to secure the release of the six arrested members. The 55 vehicles will be taken back to Turkey and given to Palestinians in refugee camps there. Of the 55 vehicles, 43 were brought by Americans at the request of Palestinian doctors. The rest are pick-up trucks and 4x4 vehicles.

Mr. Galloway announced that the convoy will now proceed to Gaza. the convoy should reach its destination later today a month after leaving for Gaza.

Chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dr. David Landy, today said: “I encourage all concerned Irish people to contact the Egyptian embassy in Dublin to register their outrage at this attack, and ask that the Viva Palestina convoy be allowed safe passage to Gaza.”

Egyptian solider killed, 10 Palestinians wounded at Rafah border

According to breaking reports, during a protest this afternoon between Egyptian forces and Palestinians at the Rafah crossing, one Egyptian solider was shot dead and two Palestinians were wounded by gunfire. The protest was against the construction by Egypt of an underground steel wall aimed at ending smuggling through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Palestinian killed, 3 wounded by Israel in airstrike

Last night, an Israeli air-strike hit a group of Palestinian militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, killing one person and wounding three others, Palestinian officials said. The Israeli military confirmed the attack, which hit near the southern town of Khan Yunis late Tuesday.


[1] – Video Footage here:


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