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Egyptian government prevents humanitarian convoy from entering Gaza, Free Gaza Movement calls for alleviating suffering

Egyptian government blocks 10th of Ramadan caravan from proceeding to Gaza

[ 11/09/2008 - 01:39 AM ]


The Egyptian governmenet stopped Wednesday an Egyptian caravan comprising many activists and political parties' members from proceeding to the besieged Gaza Strip, participants in the caravan confirmed.

The caravan was organized by the Egyptian popular committee for breaking the Gaza siege, but the Egyptian authorities stopped the four buses of the caravan at a custom checkpoint at the Egyptian city of Ismailiya.

But the organizers appeared determined to proceed with their plan, asserting that more caravans will be mobilized to the besieged Gaza Strip in a bid to break the unjust economic blockade.

"Before we reached the Ismailiya, the Egyptian security forces closed the road, and confiscated the drivers' licenses, explaining that more than 150 activists were waiting at the roadside chanting pro-Palestinian slogans", said Badr Mohammed, the spokesman of the influential Muslim Brotherhood group in Egypt.

But he pointed out that a second caravan was expected to proceed to Gaza Strip late Wednesday.

According to the participants in the caravan, the Egyptian authorities were stopping all vehicles along the Ismailiya route, and check identities of the passengers before asking them about their final destination.

The Egyptian popular step comes a couple of weeks after two foreign boats carrying European human rights activists succeeded in breaking the Israeli siege on Gaza, and anchored off Gaza shores in strong challenge to the Israelis.

The two foreign boats constituted a ray of hope to the 1.5 million Palestinian individuals besieged in the tiny Strip, spurring them to renew calls on their Arab brothers to take the initiative in breaking the siege.

Officials of the Palestinian popular committee for the lifting of the siege on Gaza announced it was preparing a big official and popular reception for the Egyptian caravan.

Head of the committee MP Dr. Jamal Al-Khudari disclosed that the committee had, in advance, prepared a program for the visiting Egyptian caravan to tour Gaza Strip, and to see for themselves the extent of the tragedy in Gaza.

Khudari also urged other Arab and Muslim countries to take similar steps against the Israeli economic sanctions on the Palestinian people.

For his part, Hamas's spokesman in Gaza Strip Fawzi Barhoum considered the Egyptian popular mobilization as a step in the right direction, and that it was defending the Egyptian-Palestinian sovereignty over the Rafah crossing point .

But Barhoum regretted the blocking of the caravan, describing the Egyptian official behavior as "an insult to the feeling of the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip, and clear undermining to the feeling of the Egyptian and Arab populace".

He added that the blocking of the caravan comes amidst an unexplainable silence on the part of the international community towards Israel's crimes against humanity in Gaza Strip.

Arab foreign ministers had convened more than a year ago, and unanimously decided to rescind the economic siege on Gaza, and of considering the Gaza Strip as "disaster area", but the Arab states failed to carry out their decisions till now.

Barhoum: denying entry of an Egyptian convoy into Gaza an 'irresponsible action

Thursday September 11, 2008 15:07 by Rami Almeghari - IMEMC & Agencies

The ruling Hamas party in Gaza slammed on Thursday the Egyptian authorities for preventing access of a solidarity convoy into Gaza, branding it 'irresponsible action'.

Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said in a statement, emailed to press, " we have been looking forward that such a convoy would help break the Israeli blockade on Gaza".

Barhoum maintained " 1.5 million Palestinians have been eagerly waiting their Egyptian brothers, amidst the Arab states' silence towards what's going on the ground, including the debilitating siege on Gaza".

"The Hamas movement has been looking forward to more mass activities by all Arab and world countries, until the suffering of the Palestinian people is alleviated", explained the Hamas spokesman.

At least four vehicles , loaded with Egyptian parliamentarians , lawyers and human rights activist and some food assistance, were heading from Cairo for the Gaza Strip, when the Egyptian police stopped them about 300 kilometers away from Gaza.

The said convoys, according to organizers, were intended at breaking the siege of Gaza and sending out a message of solidarity with the besieged Palestinian people.

The campaigners were supposed to cross via the Egypt-controlled Rafah crossing terminal, as Palestinians on the Gaza side of the terminal were expected to welcome them officially and popularly.

The Rafah crossing terminal as well as the remaining Gaza's border crossings have bee closed after Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza following Hamas's takeover of the coastal region in June2007.

Free Gaza Movement calls for alleviating the suffering of Gaza

Thursday September 11, 2008 10:42 by Rami Almeghari - IMEMC & FGM

In a session of the European Parliament's Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council (DPLC), the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), called upon the international community to join the Movement's efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian population of Gaza, due to a 'strangulating' Israeli blockade.

In a statement emailed to the IMEMC, Paul Larudee, one of the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement's successful breach of the Israeli blockade of Gaza in August, was quoted as saying " The Israeli siege has produced widespread and endless human suffering in Gaza".

" We've proved that the sea link to Gaza is viable, but the humanitarian needs in Gaza are overwhelming and our two , small boats cannot even begin to meet those needs. Today we call for much broader effort, specifically, we are calling on other members of the international community-governments, non-governmental organizations and others dedicated to protecting human rights - to join us by providing their own ships, humanitarian goods, and human capital to open wide Gaza’s access to the world. This is an opportunity that simply must not be squandered.”

Since Israel imposed the blockade two years ago, malnutrition and unemployment rates in Gaza have soared. In May 2008, several international aid organizations, including CARE International UK, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Medecins du Monde UK, stated that, “the stranglehold on Gaza’s borders has made ... the work of the UN and other humanitarian agencies ... virtually impossible.

Only a trickle of medicine, food, fuel and other goods is being allowed in. [The Israeli blockade of Gaza] has made people highly dependent on food aid, and brought the health system and basic services such as water and sanitation near to collapse”, the statement made clear.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Huwaida Arraf, a law professor at Al-Quds University and another organizer with the Free Gaza Movement, stated that, “We urge the world to join us in asserting that the Palestinian people have a right to access the outside world. The world cannot stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately starved and humiliated; Palestinians have a right to life with dignity.”

Two of the Free Gaza Movement’s boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, arrived in Gaza Port on August 23 to the jubilation of tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered at the port. It was the first time in over forty years that international ships had docked in Gaza Port. The boats avoided Israeli interference by staying exclusively in international, Gaza, and Cypriot waters on their journey.

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