The real story from Mavi Marmara: They were shooting to kill
from the Morning Star
The Israeli massacre of unarmed campaigners aboard a ship carrying aid to Gaza is the "Sharpeville and Soweto of the Movement for Palestinian Solidarity," one of those who survived the bloodthirsty assault has said.
Speaking to the Star from Istanbul shortly after his release from an Israeli jail British campaigner Kevin Ovenden, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara - the boat that bore the brunt of a terrifying raid by gun-toting Israeli commandos - described the attack as a "murderous assault" and "an act of political terrorism."
Sarah Colborne from Palestine Solidarity Campaign gives eyewitness account of Mavi Marmara massacre
"The last 72 hours have been the most harrowing in my life. Even for an experienced campaigner like myself, nothing prepared me for the barbaric onslaught by the Israeli Army on a boat of unarmed peace activists with a cargo of humanitarian aid.
"There are images from Monday's bloody attack that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
"Yet for all the horrors of the last few days, for all the deaths and injuries, there is one thing that helped me through - knowing that back here in London PSC would be vociferously campaigning on behalf of all the hostages illegally held by the Israeli's.
"I will be writing tomorrow at greater length about my experiences, but I wanted every PSC member and supporter to know that your outstanding campaign over the last week is appreciated and I hope to see as many of you as can make it to the demo in central London on Saturday."
Kevin Ovenden speaks out in Istanbul
3rd June 2010
"The massacre on the Mavi Marmara must be a turning point. Passengers from 32 countries were murderously attacked by the israeli forces.
"This is the Sharpeville and the Soweto of the movement for palestinian solidarity.
"People of those countries around the world must now tell their governments that we are not prepared to continue to allow Israel to flout international law. The inhuman siege of Gaza must end now!
"The Israeli government has used terror for political ends. But we are not afraid.
"We who survived the Mavi Marmara massacre will redouble our efforts to bring humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine and end this siege!"
Kevin confirms that he, Nicola Enchmarch and Nader Daher are all safe and well.
Duty to cooperate in the repression of piracy
All States shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.
Viva Palestina founder George Galloway released the following statement on 31st May 2010 in response to the Mavi Marmara massacre:
"Israel has massacred unarmed peace activists aboard a flotilla taking emergency aid to the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza. This is a watershed that will change the perception of the world, as Sharpeville and Soweto did to the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
"It unmasks Israel which no-one can now consider a member of the 'international community' but is rather a rogue state, a pariah state.
"The embargo and blockade of Gaza must be brought to an end. This has been underwritten by the United States, by Britain and the European Union, but this has got to end now."
Manchester marches in solidarity with Flotilla heroes
London demonstration against Mavi Marmara massacre
Members of the Israeli Navy commandeered the largest ship of the Gaza Flotilla and in the process kill a reported 19 activists. On board the ship are international human rights activists from a number of countries including 28 from the UK.
1) Protest against Israel's actions, to support the flotilla and to demand action from our government
11.00am, The Foreign Office, Whitehall, London.
2,00pm Downing Street, London.
5.00pm, BBC Oxford Road, Manchester
Israeli forces have attacked the international aid convoy Freedom Flotilla en route to the besieged Gaza Strip, killing a a reported 9 people and leaving more than 50 injured.
The attack came on Monday morning, 31st May, after one of the six ships in the convoy was hit by Israeli navy forces before being stormed by commandos descending from helicopters.
The interception reportedly took place in international waters, more than 150km (90 miles) off the coast of Gaza.
George Galloway speaks out in outrage from Houston, Texas at 05.18am
KEVIN OVENDEN REPORT'S LIVE FROM THE GAZA FLOTILLA!
At 22:41pm tonight May 30th, preparations aboard the Mavi Marmara are extensive. We are 90 miles away from land - 22 miles further than the Israeli decided 68 mile exclusion zone - but are being approached by an Israeli vessel. Triage is set up and various strategies implemented to resist seizure.
The Israeli media is reporting that Israel will deploy a very large naval force. Far from minimising violence, this is an illegal aggressive move which will make it more likely. We are broadcasting live from the ship. Calm and organisation overcome the fear that Israel is trying to instill.
Viva Palestina and all aboard are prepared. We are calling on everyone to contact various political leaders to ask them to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of these brave people, and to stand up and add their voice in support of this humanitarian flotilla.
Full details of how they can contact these political figures can be found through following link: CLICK HERE
There you will find email addresses, and template letters to use. Full instructions are provided, and we ask that you follow these and show your support for everyone involved.
This is a very serious situation, and we are calling on everyone to play their part in helping ensure their safety, and that the aid reaches Gaza without difficulty.
George Galloway salutes Freedom Flotilla!
30th May 2010
George Galloway founder of the worldwide Viva Palestina movement and leader of three land convoys which broke the siege on Gaza today hailed the heroic sea-borne aid effort steaming towards Gaza.
Speaking from Miami Florida, where he is in the middle of a twelve city speaking tour of the US on Palestine, Galloway hailed the Turkish humanitarian organisation IHH which has organised and leads the flotilla as "heroes" who are facing the hardships of the seas and the threats of violence from Gaza's besiegers the Apartheid state of Israel.
Galloway called on all people and governments of goodwill to insist on safe passage for the hundreds of humanitarians on board the ships and the unmolested delivery of the vital aid supplies on board.
Promising on behalf of Viva Palestina Arabia a second sea convoy later in the year - again in partnership with IHH - Galloway thanked the government of Turkey and its incomparable prime minister Erdogan for showing the world the way to peacefully confront the international crime being committed against the people of Palestine.
News from the flotilla
30th May 2010 We are awaiting the arrival of the European parliamentarians, who are being shuttled from Northern Cyprus to our staging ground in international waters to the south of the island where they will board the lead ship. The decision by the Greek Cypriot government not only not to allow the flotilla to harbour there, but also to object to, and twice prevent, the departure of a parliamentary delegation directly by sea to join the convoy is creating something of a scandal in Greece and beyond.
Cyprus recently elected its first ever Communist President, earning him the moniker the Fidel Castro of the Mediterranean. If this recent shabby episode is anything to go by, Akel, the Cypriot Communist Party, would be better served by its previous policy of supporting a left of centre figure for the highest office. The last such president allowed friends of Palestine to muster there.
Five vessels are ready to go - three cargos and two passenger, three Turkish and two that sailed from Athens - one Greek and one Greek- Swedish. The are larger boats and the clear lesson is that for such an operation a few larger and well fitted vessels are more effective than a larger number of smaller boats.
A coalition of organisations and initiatives has come together in this flotilla, but the Turkish IHH has set the standard by raising around 20 million USD and setting about the mission with élan, peerless organisation and a collegiate approach that belies the extent to which they are responsible for the impressive force that is gathered now in the Eastern Mediterranean.
To my mind, the lessons are worth learning now, for whatever the outcome of the next 48 hours, there will be another sea mission to Gaza - and it will need to be even bigger and broader.
Kevin Ovenden reports for Viva Palestina from the Freedom Flotilla
29th May 2010
I finally have access to some intermitant internet connection
At 17.30 this evening the European Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza arrived at the staging point south of Cyprus, joining the Greek cargo ship and the three Turkish vessels in international waters. We are now waiting the arrival of five European parliamentarians from Cyrpus, who have had to travel from the Greek south to the Turkish north in order to board a vessel to join us. It is an embarrassing episode for the Greek Cyriot government of President Christofias. Cyrpus had previously been accommodating of efforts to break the siege on Gaza, but not this time.
The level of support for the international flotilla is growing by the day. There are now expressions of either support for allowing the ships in or calling for Israel to be restrained in its actions from Norway, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Italy, Russia and from the EU foregin affairs chief Cathy Ashton. At the same time, Israel has remained bellicose and truculent in its responses.
The atmosphere on board the lead passenger vessel, the Mavri Marmara, is calm and determined - thanks in large part to the drive and discipline of the Turkish delegation led by the indomitable IHH.
The Viva Palestina delegation, drawing on our experience of the three land convoys, is contributing to maintaining the resolve, which is hardening, despite the loss of two European vessels which have had to break off from joining the flotilla due to mechanical problems.
It is clear to us that Israel has already lost in this confontation, which is entirely of its own making. First, the flotilla is generating unprecedented publicity, and it is overwhelmingly critical of Israel's stance. I was interviewed on Fox News, for example, and even the interviewer seemed to run through the moderately hostile questions as a matter of course rather than with any conviction. Second, it has openly declared that it is prepared to use physical force agaisnt a peaceful, humanitarian mission. Despite efforts by hostile media to claim that this is merely a propaganda or political mission, the message that this flotilla is bringing vital humanitarian aid is getting through. The political dimension is a result purely of the illegal and immoral siege imposed on the people of Gaza. It is Israel and governments which support the embargo which have made concrete, glass, educational supplies and medicines and incendiary political issue.
As with every confrontation Israel has engaged in over the last few years it is drawing down its already reduced political stock. So, the threats to sieze the ships and intern 600 people in the Israeli port of Ashdod are having the effect neither of intimidating people onboard nor of generating awe elsewhere. Perhaps among some people they may create fear. But creating fear is never the way to being loved. In fact, the bellicosity coming from Israel is more likely to lead some of those who continue to support it to fall out of love with it.
We await the shuttle boat from Cyprus and setting course for Gaza tomorrow.
Viva Palestina, on board the Mavri Marmara
28th May 2010
Sailing into the siege “People are very aware that the Israeli authorities and indeed others are playing all sorts of mind games, with threats alternating with so called offers, which would include surrendering the aid into Israeli hands, something which the participants of the flotilla find entirely unacceptable”
Speaking from the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, Kevin Ovenden from Viva Palestina outlined some of the concerns and realities currently been faced by over 750 people on board the 9 ships sailing towards Gaza.
The last of the ships departed from Turkey at midnight last night, and they are all currently in International waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Their journey is faced with incredible danger, given the threats that have been issued by the Israeli Government. They have stated that they will stop this Flotilla at all costs, even by force if necessary. Their safety is in grave danger, and the time has come for the international community to stand up for their safety and well being.
Tomorrow, Saturday, the flotilla should be sailing into Gaza, however, given the threats issued, the likely hood of this happening is looking uncertain at this stage. We are calling on everyone to contact various political leaders to ask them to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of these brave people, and to stand up and add their voice in support of this humanitarian flotilla.
Full details of how they can contact these political figures can be found through following link: CLICK HERE
There you will find e mail addresses, and template letters to use. Full instructions are provided, and we ask that you follow these and show your support for everyone involved.
This is a very serious situation, and we are calling on everyone to play their part in helping ensure their safety, and that the aid reaches Gaza without difficulty.
Click below to listen to Kevin's full appeal speaking from the flotilla ship Mavi Marmara.
Press TV report
Noam Chomsky and Gerry Adams show support for Gaza flotilla CLICK HERE
The Summer University of Palestine
On the 25th July the first session of the annual 'Summer University of Palestine' is due to begin in Lebanon. This event is organised by the registered Lebanese charity Viva Palestina Arabia and will focus on Palestine.
The week long intensive course will cover 'Past, Present and Future Palestine' on the history, geography and politics of the region. A-list renowned world-class speakers such as: George Galloway, Ghada Karmi, Norman Finkelstein, Abdul Rahim Mourad, Dr Ali Fayad, Ziad Hafez, Reem Nimer, Vangelis Pissias, Dr Daud Abdullah ,Ma'un Bashour, Yvonne Ridley,Ramzy Baroud,Gabi Baramki, and Dr Azzam Tamimi amongst other leading speakers will be there! Will you?
In addition to this residential educational event there will be visits to Palestinian refugee camps and we will also take you to view Baalbek, city of the sun and Fatima's gate. This unforgettable experience is priced at $850 USD for 7 days/6 nights. This includes accommodation at the magnificent Lebanese International University, transfers, excursions, a full university syllabus and meals on the campus.
You will also receive the official Viva Palestina Arabia T-shirt designed by Philosophy Football . Spaces are limited! Register here to secure your place www.vivapalestinaarabia.org -
Return to Gaza
The historic and international aid convoy, Viva Palestina, travels over 3000 km in an effort to break the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. This documentary follows the members of the convoy and their 3rd and largest humanitarian mission by land, with over 200 vehicles loaded with aid. Ignored by mainstream media, the convoy sets off its journey from London to Gaza via Europe. They then face many obstacles in the last days of the journey traveling through Egypt.
Coming soon in April 2010 - by Dane Vincent Smith.
Watch the trailer below
Viva Palestina Convoy Celebration Day
Tuesday 23 February 2010 - 7pm - 9pm A Public Event in honour of Viva Palestina Convoy to Gaza
The Program will include: - Keynote speech by George Galloway MP
- A pictorial slideshow and presentation of the Viva Palestina convoy and the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza
- An award ceremony to the representatives of the Viva Palestina Convoy.
Nearest tube station is Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines) approx 3 min walk. Also within reasonable walking distance are Chancery Lane and Russell Square.
Palestinian Forum of Britain (PFB) Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) Islamic Unity Forum (IUF) Supporting Organisations : British Muslim Initiative (BMI) , Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) , Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) , Stop The War Coalition (STW) , Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) , Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS)
Convoy members - request for your impressions
As part of the Viva Palestina Convoy Celebration Day on the 23rd of February an independent production team is putting together a short film which includes convoy members talking about their 'impressions' of the convoy and a montage of photographs taken by those on the convoy.
Sustaining Palestine with Aid and Fair Trade
With Speakers from 'Zaytoun' and 'Viva Palestina - Friends in Slough'
Tuesday, February 23, 7:15pm - 9:30pm
Kingsway United Reformed Church, Church Street (behind High Street), Slough,
Returning from the recent successful Viva Palestina Convoy the volunteers from Slough will be joined by a Palestinian olive grower as part of fair trade fortnight to talk about the situation in Gaza and about the ways Palestine can by sustained by fair trade as well as aid.
'Fair Trade' products will be on sale including Palestinian Olives and Dates from 'Zaytoun'
Free entry - All welcome
News Update - 5th February 2010
Events have been moving fast since the convoy's return from Gaza. In addition to the good news that the two convoy members who stayed behind in Gaza are now safely back following intensive efforts to secure their return, here are a couple of further updates.
Viva Palestina US held two very successful meetings in New York and in Boston last weekend, raising around $60,000. In addition, the American Friends of Palestine held a fundraising in New Jersey which raised over $100,000. It is particularly signficant that despite attempts in the US to whip up hostility against solidarity with the Palestinians and against Viva Palestina, on account of its high profile, that these events were packed out. There was great enthusiasm for two upcoming initiatives.
Viva Palestina on the High Seas
1) Viva Palestina will be taking part in a mission to send a flotilla of boats to Gaza to seek to break the blockade by sea. The timing of this is in the process of being locked down and we are working very closely with the Turkish organisation IHH, which is taking the lead on organising logistics. All the signs are that there is enormous support in Britain and internationlly for this venture. Further details will follow very shortly and VP is committed to a major fundraising effort to bring a significant component to the IHH-led effort.
Summer University of Palestine
2) Negotiations are at a closing stage in Lebanon on the details of a Summer University of Palestine to take place in late July/early August. Again, we will be in a position to announce the final details very shortly.
A large number of report back meetings have either happened or are planned, and there is already a huge awareness of what the convoy achieved. A tour of colleges is also organised so that students can hear about the conovy and about conditions facing students in Gaza. Other meetings and events are also taking place.
There will be a large meeting in Batley, West Yorkshire, at the end of this month, for example, thanks to the Indian Muslim Welfare Association, which was extremely supportive of the convoy and all our efforts. In addition, a lot of people have taken the time to write their throughts about the whole experience down and to email us.
Again, there is an overwhelmingly positive feeling.
Please do send in your thoughts and suggestions so that we can incorporate them into planning for the future. We are in the process of securing acknowledgements and thank yous from those who received the aid we delivered and we'll make these available as we have them. We hope to be able to put out a comprehensive update on future events soon.
In the meantime, one measure of the success of the convoy and the mushrooming support for Viva Palestina - which is expanding internationally (watch this space!) - is various attempts by those who support the siege to spread disinformation and downright lies about the convoy and their unsuccessful attempts to pressure public authorities in the US and Britain to take these spurious allegations seriously.
We won't be intimidated by such underhand tricks and attempts to divide the movement we are building. Our answer is to press on, undeterred, and to build on the success of the last three convoys, all of which have broken the siege.
Kevin Ovenden Viva Palestina
Vehicles left in Egypt by convoy taken to Syria by IHH
The 43 vehicles that Egypt had not allowed to be taken into Gaza along with the rest of the Viva Palestina convoy have been shipped to Syria by the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation. They will then be donated to Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon.
The vehicles were left at Arish port, as agreed with Egyptian authorities, to defuse a crisis over the vehicles. Egypt had blocked their entry into Gaza through its territory without providing any reasonable explanation. The other 153 vehicles were successfully taken to Gaza.
The 43 vehicles were loaded onto ships by IHH officials to be taken to Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon. The IHH, which managed to break the embargo as joint sponsors of the convoy, has launched preparations for another convoy. The foundation is planning to reach Gaza directly via sea in March 2010. Aid materials will be delivered to Gaza in five ships. Ppeople can donate vehicles, medical equipment and cash to be taken to Gaza alongside the planned marine convoy. Viva Palestina will be joining the IHH every nautical mile of the way.
Congratulations Some of the messages of support we have recieved from around the world CLICK HERE
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN EXTERNAL LINKS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFELCT THE VIEWS OF VIVA PALESTINA ITSELF.
Protests outside Egyptian embassy in Kuala Lumpur
From Ireland to Gaza John Hurson reports CLICK HERE
A message from Kevin Ovenden - Viva Palestina convoy leader
"The level of support internationally for this mission has been tremendous. We`ve been understandably in a bit of a bubble - especially when we were barricaded in at the port of Al Arish. But we´ve got some sense of the scale of solidarity events and of media coverage.
"The sight of people lining the streets virtually the full length of the Gaza Strip, after waiting for 10 hours for our last vehicles to pass (thanks to further Egyptian delays) was the only vindication of that this initiative ever required.
"This was an incredibly diverse group of 518 people. Now we aim to build on that across the UK and internationally.
"Thanks to everyone who responded to the calls to action from the VP office. There are thousands of emails to respond to and we will do as soon as we can. We are now working on further plans for coordinated initiatives over the next 12 months, which will be announced shortly. "
A Poem for the Viva Palestina convoy
Dedicated to all those who took part in the convoy and those who supported it around the world. CLICK HERE
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN EXTERNAL LINKS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFELCT THE VIEWS OF VIVA PALESTINA ITSELF.
VIVA! VIVA! PALESTINA!
17.30 GMT Wednesday 6th January One month, thousands of miles, ten countries, one ship and a four flights later, Viva Palestina has entered the besieged Gaza Strip.
Congratulations Some of the messages of support we have recieved from around the world CLICK HERE
11.00am GMT: Thursday 7th January
The Viva Palestina convoy have now handed their aid over to the Central Council of Charities - a non-governmental body of civic societies - at a ceremony in Gaza City. Convoy volunteers will now be visiting hospitals and other places where their aid will be put to use, as well as taking a tour of the devastated areas of Gaza.
Bülent Yildirim, president of the I.H.H- Insan Hak ve Hürriyetleri Insani Yardim Vakfi
In interview with Press TV George Galloway promises that in future, "You'll see Viva Palestina coming from all corners of the world."
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN EXTERNAL LINKS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF VIVA PALESTINA ITSELF.
"We are all emotional to see that all of Gaza are out to greet us! Our Viva Palestina convoy is symbolic! It shows the Palestianian people just how much the people of the West do care.
" We come in peace to deliver humanitarian aid and we hope that our convoy (and convoy's like ours) will help to build pressure on the Israeli government to break the siege." Kevin Ovenden, convoy leader
Al-Jazerra reports below
Press TV reports below
Short but oh so sweet! - Headlines from Al-Jazeera
“It is shocking that the Egyptian government is behaving in this way. There can be no justification for preventing this aid and the people who have worked so hard to provide it from reaching Gaza . The Palestinians are waiting for this well publicised international convoy to arrive and these actions of the Egyptian government, and the building of Egypt's steel wall signal that Egypt is colluding with the Israeli government's illegal siege of Gaza.” Betty Hunter, General Secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Press TV analysis ands interview with Betty Hunter below
Part Two here
Latest Radio Islam Interview with Kevin Ovenden CLICK HERE
Press TV - 11.00 GMT
Viva Palestina: More Than 10 Injured, Seven Arrested
EL-ARISH PORT, Jan 6 (Bernama) -- More than 10 members of the Viva Palestina convoy were injured, four of them seriously, and seven members arrested by Egyptian police during a protest here Tuesday at 11.40pm local time.
Among those arrested was a Malaysian, Ibrahim Mohd Azmi, a University of Bristol medical student who was a convoy volunteer.
The protest was staged by Viva Palestina convoy members to protest against the decision by the Eqyptian government to bar 59 convoy vehicles from leaving here for Gaza.
SKY NEWS REPORT HERE Turkish TV Report HERE
Press TV Report below
Crisis in Egypt
Viva Palestina faced with 2,000 riot police in the port of Al-Arish!
To all friends of Palestine,
Our situation is now at a crisis point! Riot has broken out in the port of Al- Arish.
This late afternoon we were negotiating with a senior official from Cairo who left negotiations some two hours ago and did not return. Our negotiations with the official was regarding taking our aid vehicles into Gaza.
He left two hours ago and did not come back. Egyptian authorities called over 2,000 riot police who then moved towards our camp at the port.
We have now blocked the entrance to the port and we are now faced with riot police and water cannons and are determined to defend our vehicles and aid.
The Egyptian authorities have by their stubbornness and hostility towards the convoy, brought us to a crisis point.
We are now calling upon all friends of palestine to mount protests in person where possible, but by any means available to Egyptian representatives, consulates and Embassy's and demand that the convoy are allowed a safe passage into Gaza tomorrow!
Kevin Ovenden Viva Palestina Convoy Leader
Contact details including email addresses and phone numbers of Egyptian Embassies and consulates can be found here
Click here to read an example of one email sent this evening - feel free to use/amend, etc.
So we are asking our friends and supporters to dig deep in their pockets and make an emergency donation towards the costs now facing the convoy including chartering the ULUSOY-6 to tansport the vehicles and four or five flights to move the convoy members.
With your help we will once more deliver aid to the people of Gaza - and once more demand the end to this inhuman siege.
Thanks you for your support and may we wish everyone a Happy New Year.
Thank you to the many supporters from more than twenty countries who have already donated online. Your generosity and support is wonderful.
Message from Noam Chomsky to the Convoy members
Just picked up your letter. Very glad to hear from you. I was concerned that I hadn't heard anything since your last letter.
Despite the media blackout, which is a disgrace, this is turning out to be a really spectacular triumph, I think, and it's hard to express properly my admiration and respect for those who are directly engaged. It has to be a shot in the arm for the people in Gaza, and might stir up some opposition to the dictatorship in Egypt, which is exposing its brutality daily -- to everyone except the US media (hope it's better elsewhere). And I think a lot of people are going to come back home really invigorated.
Good luck in what lies ahead.
ULUSOY-6 loading up in Lattakia
Press TV report - 3rd January
Viva Palestina Convoy To Use Tartus Port To Get To Gaza
Viva Palestina members light candles for the victims of Israeli aggression
DAMASCUS, December 30th 2009 (Bernama)
After a short rest in Damascus, the 450 members of the Viva Palestina convoy is preparing to continue their journey to the northern port city of Tartus, some 200km away from here, to deliver their humanitarian aid safely to the Palestinians in Gaza.
Back in Damascus - Next stop Tartus Read report from the convoy here
Viva Palestina rebuts Egyptian 'bungle' allegations
30th December 2009
The Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit claimed at a press conference on Tuesday (December 29) that his country was willing to assist the Viva Palestina convoy's entry into Gaza. He cited two letters sent by the Egyptian embassy in London on November 10 and December 10. What he does not say is that the conditions laid down were totally unacceptable, as convoy organiser George Galloway responded in writing at the time.
AMMAN - After spending more than three days stranded in Aqaba, the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy headed to Gaza was forced to change its route after Egypt refused to allow it entry through the port of Nuweibeh, activists said.
The convoy will instead travel to Amman before heading to Syria to load the cargo onto a ship at the Mediterranean port of Latakia, bound for El Arish in Egypt, where Egypt receives aid to Gaza.
(shown in the picture: right to left : MP George Galloway wearing the red Jordanian Armed forces Kufiyyah, Zahir alBirawi Lifeline spokesperson, Ali AbulSukkar, Jordanian MP, Barrister, Engineer). High resversion here
"Israel has kept Gaza under siege for three-and-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."
George Galloway MP - 27th December 2009
Protests after prayers in Aqaba against the Egyptian refusal to allow the Viva Palestina convoy entry across the Red Sea.
Humanitarian appeal from Malaysia
An Appeal To The Egyptian Government
- Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed
I have been informed that the International Humanitarian Aid convoy under Viva Palestina has yet to get approval from the Egyptian authorities to enter Gaza via the Rafa crossing. This convoy is made up of volunteers from several nations who are personally bringing ambulances and trucks bearing medical supplies, baby food and clothing for the people of Gaza. The Perdana Global Peace Organisation has purchased 4 trucks and an ambulance and has sent its team on this convoy bearing the much needed aid for the Gazans.
Friends of Viva Palestina in Manchester will be saddened to hear of the death of Phil Kaiserman. In February Phil joined friends of Viva Palestina to send off the first convoy to Gaza - which in tribute to a life dedicated to campaigning and human solidarity - bore his own name. The Phil Kaiserman Column, led by our iconic red fire engine was a celebration of the radical Jewish tradition Phil represented for so many decades.
After a Jewish childhood in Manchester's Cheetham Hill between the wars, Phil Kaiserman went on to join the Young Communist League and raised money for the Spanish Republican cause during the Civil War. It was the active solidarity of working people during the Spanish Civil war - the movement which became known as Aidez Espagna - which was George Galloway's inspiration for the Viva Palestina convoy to another besieged people over 70 years later.
We would like to pass on our deepest sympathies to his daughter Linda at this difficult time.
International Aid Convoy Members on Hunger Strike
27th December 2009
Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a hunger strike at 11.25 am today (27 th) in protest at the Egyptian government's refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil.
Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy's entry to Egypt. IHH, Turkey's main humanitarian aid agency, has 63 vehicles travelling on the convoy.
The compound where our convoy members gather during the day, here in Aqaba, is full of activity. In exactly an hour, more than 30 of us will begin a hunger strike in protest at Egypt's refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil.
Spencer Evans at BBC Gloucester airs the news of the convoy through the airwaves at the BBC CLICK HERE
Evans talks with Viva Palestina's Alice Howard on why convoy members are taking a stand with the Hunger Strike. Listen to the news bulletins from now until 1 to hear live interview with Gloucester Viva Palestina member Abdur Rahman Motara.
Letter to the Ambassadors
The following letter was sent to the Ambassadors of the many countries whose citizens are currently waiting with the convoy in Aqaba.
I write to you on this Christmas Day to send seasonal greetings.
I must also alert you to a difficult situation that has arisen for number of citizens of ........ who are volunteers with the Viva Palestina aid convoy that is currently marooned in Jordan.
26th December 2009
by John Hurson, Irish Viva Palestina Delegation
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.
25th December 2009
No Christmas Cheer from Egyptian Authorities
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.
Find out more and what you can do to help at Reading PSC
Galloway to Cairo: Open the gates
British Lawmaker George Galloway has appealed to Cairo to allow the Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy he is accompanying to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip. Read Press TV report here
Letter in The Guardian
Thank you for the article about the children in Gaza. I am sorry, however, that, along with the rest of the UK national media, you have given no coverage to the convoy of about 80 UK vehicles that is currently travelling across Turkey, along with over 100 other vehicles, to take humanitarian goods to the people of Gaza. I have helped to raise funds for the York ambulance and, as a retired teacher, I have made sure that as well as medical supplies the ambulance has paper, pencils and crayons for the children of Gaza to help them express their feelings, so well explained in your article. For many years I worked with refugee children in east London and now I support asylum seeking families in Yorkshire. These children in the UK are often traumatised enough. How much worse for the children in Gaza?
Janice Gupta Gwilliam, Norton, North Yorkshire
A big thank you from Viva Palestina to the Malaysian Perdana Global Peace Organisation. From half way across the world thay have raised the Viva Palestina banner just as high and as proudly as those closer to Palestine. Members of Perdana travelling on the convoy were joined this week by a film crew from Malaysian Bernama TV (BBC please note - THIS IS A NEWS STORY!) in Damascus for the final leg of the convoy's journey to Gaza.
Irish Humanitarian Delegation Travelling To Gaza
On December 27 th , the st anniversary of the attacks on Gaza, a Humanitarian Delegation from Ireland will attempt to cross through the Rafah Border and deliver humanitarian aid to the stricken region.
Border crossings can be so stressful - waiting to cross into Jordan
Leading Syrian Newspaper Baladna
3 page feature on Viva Palestina Gaza Convoy
Click on each image below for the full pdf page
Convoy in Jordan to Grand Welcome
By Mohammad Ben Hussein at The Jordan Times (23rd Dec)
AMMAN- Activists on Tuesday gave a grand welcome to a humanitarian aid convoy en route to Gaza to mark the first anniversary of Israels offensive on the coastal enclave.
Some 200 trucks entered the Kingdom through the Jaber border crossing yesterday afternoon, and were greeted by professional association and opposition activists.
Mafraq, Dec 22 (Petra) -- An aid convoy with over 220 vehicles and 450 figures from the United States and European countries on Tuesday crossed into Jordan from Syria en route to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.
21st December 2009
After the Road to Damascus
The Viva Palestina Convoy has now arrived safely in Damascus to a wonderful reception with lots of press and hundreds of people. With over 220 vehicles and over 450 people representing many countries Viva Palestina is gaining momentum.
“The reception we've had from ordinary Turkish people, from its government, and from the IHH has been absolutely phenomenal. Their support and enthusiasm has boosted the morale of the convoy immeasurably, and their obvious support and love for the people of Gaza has been an inspiration to us. We can't thank Turkey enough.”
Kevin Ovenden, Viva Palestina convoy leader.
Two successful convoys spur flood of humanitarian assistance!
George Galloway interview with Richard Hall at leading English Newspaper in the Middle-East - The Daily Star (Beirut)
Street scenes of Viva Palestina Convoy night arrival in Konya, Southern Turkey. Judo mats at the sports hall welcome the exhausted crews. Large press conference in the Konya City square followed by a drive to Adana. Overnight in a large hall organised by Turkish hosts IHH.
Our reception in Turkey is truly an unforgettable one! 100's of people arrive to greet us at the border!! Turkish National TV is reporting live coverage as the convoy moves through their towns… Our Turkish friends cheer us on with Filstine Yolacik !!! (which means, a lifeline from Turkey to Gaza). Viva Turkya!!
On the media front, the mainstream in Britain may be ignoring us, but, one way and another, we are being heard all the same.
I've never had much time for all the ‘broadcast your life' social networking stuff before, but, on a mission like this, it has really come into its own. A whole network of Twitterers, bloggers and Facebook users are pushing the message out far and wide. And every little plug really does make a difference.
Viva Palestina convoy received a warm welcome by well wishers this morning! The Major of Thessaloniki Costas Theo Dorides along with two members of Parliament arrived along with crowds of happy people. Representatives from the Palestinian community organisation, flocked to greet the convoy too. This televised meeting was watched live on 'national Greek TV along with many at the warm sea front of Thessaloniki.
We are all aboard our vessel that will carry us to Greece! We thank the people of Italy for such a wonderful departure! Greece here we come!
Camping at small town above Ancona. Pizza party. Made gd friends of owner & family - happy occasion. Ordinary folk doing the super-ordinary
Convoy has landed in port Ancona! Our multi-coloured vehicles and songs are making everyone stand to attention and smile!
VIVA ITALIA!!! Convoy has arrived in Italy!!!! Bellissimo!!!!
Full steam ahead the Viva Palestina Convoy are now in Germany!! News of the convoy has reached South Africa!! VP's Kevin Ovendon takes 5 for a live interview on the convoy with leading Radio Islam! Viva Palestina convoy is still in Germany and fast approaching its neighbour Austria!
VP Convoy received a fabulous reception in Brussels last night from the Arab community and friends!! Both Belgian vehicles have joined the convoy and the moral is electric!! We are singing songs as we move on the route to Gaza!!
Following a phenomenal media launch this morning at the Embankment - Viva Palestina Convoy 'The Return' to Gaza, is now on the move! YES!! Viva Palestina
A World Prayer for Gaza
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Invitation to share in a prayer for Gaza Strip
To commemorate the last war on it
Let us pray for all who suffer in the Gaza Strip.
For those who are deprived and oppressed,
for all who are sick and handicapped,
for those in darkness, in doubt and in despair,
in loneliness and fear. For prisoners, for the victims of false accusations and violence, for all at the point of death, and those who watch beside them, that God, in his mercy, will sustain them with the knowledge of his love.
Students have joined hundreds of other activists from across Britain and the world to take part in the blockade-busting Viva Palestina Convoy.
The third convoy of its kind, the Viva Palestina Convoy, will be travelling for three thousand miles over the coming weeks, aiming to break the siege on Gaza on 27 th December – the one year anniversary of the start of Israel's brutal war on Gaza earlier this year.
5th December 2009
Chomsky pays tribute to Viva convoy
During his recent visit to Ireland, Professor Noam Chomsky spent a day with John Hurson (picture) and spoke of his support for "Viva Palestina".
"What Viva Palestina have achieved on their previous convoys has been incredible. Not only did they break the siege on Gaza, but they brought much needed aid, and solidarity on a massive international scale. The efforts of everyone from right across the world who took part in the previous convoy's by giving up their time to drive to the stricken region of Gaza should be fully commended.
To everyone taking part in the 3rd Viva Convoy, I wish you all the very best of luck, and your efforts for the people in Gaza just warms my heart. You bring hope, solidarity, peace, and love from right across the world. I am with you all the way in sprirt."
President Gaza GAA Club.
Bristol school sends postcards to Gaza
Students at the City Academy School in Bristol have been writing POSTCARDS TO GAZA. On Monday 30 th November, they were handed to the convoy which will deliver them to a school in Gaza. The youngsters also donated boxes of stationery together with sacks of cuddly toys.
After 6 months of fundraising, 4 teams from all across Ireland will leave on Friday December 4th, to travel 4,000 miles to Gaza, to deliver Ambulances and Humanitarian aid to the stricken region.
In Tyrone, Galway, Dublin, Derry & Cork, volunteers have been working flat out fundraising, and raising awareness of the plight of the people in Gaza. Together, they will bring 2 ambulances, a mini bus, and a truck filled with over 10 tonne of humanitarian aid.
29th November 2009
Gaza Convoy truck parade in Bristol
The Bristol contingent of the Viva Palestina Convoy paraded their massive 44 ton truck around their shopping centre on Saturday. Accompanied by musicians and marchers with placards they drew attention to the plight of the people in Gaza and collected donation for their trip.
A year ago Philosophy Football produced a T-shirt in support of the Viva Palestina convoy. In support, of the 2009 convoy they have produced a limited edition print of their hugely popular 'They Stole My Land' design, each one numbered and signed by the Viva Palestina leader George Galloway and artist Hugh Tisdale. With 100% of profits funding the convoy, this specially produced print is limited to a run of only 100, and produced on archival materials for long-term durability.Hurry!
Both the need to raise the last funds for the convoy before they depart is urgent and the print number is strictly limited. Your print will be posted, UK or airmail, in a safe and secure package. You won't regret your generosity, the cause is vital, the image you hang on your wall magnificent. Available from http://www.philosophyfootball.com/view_item.php?pid=558
Kingston raises Gaza solidarity
On Friday 30th October 2009, a beautiful sunny but cold day Kingston Mosque held a very successful fundraiser in aid of our brothers and sisters in Gaza, to be taken by Viva Palestina on their upcoming convoy in December. We sold lunch after Jummah, MarshaAllah no one can resist byriani and samosas, especially hungry brothers! It was such a simple idea and easy to arrange. The generosity of the brothers and sisters who attended Kingston mosque was overwhelming, along with some very talented cooks we managed to raise (donations are still coming in) to date in the region of £2,800.
From York to Gaza
Next month, in the depths of winter, four local people will set out to drive an ambulance thousands of miles overland to Gaza. STEPHEN LEWIS asked them why.
IT GETS cold in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in December: bitterly, bone-searchingly cold.
“Temperatures can get to well below freezing,” admits Heather Stroud matter-of-factly.
If you were thinking of driving through those mountains in winter on a journey of thousands of miles from the UK to Gaza, an old, decommissioned NHS ambulance is probably the last vehicle you'd choose.
I would like to express my full support for the Viva Palestina convoy which leaves in December. The ongoing siege of Gaza is a crime against humanity, as was the Israeli attack last year. British support for the relief efforts is a contribution to the solution of a human problem. I wish the convoy all success.
Tony Benn (human rights campaigner and former Labour MP)
Friday 16th October saw the launch of the Gloucester communities' campaign to hopefully send 2 or maybe more ambulances by road to Gaza. Campaign organisers hope that the vehicles will leave from London on December 5th 2009 with the main Viva Palestina convoy. 7 volunteers in 3 vehicles drove to Gaza in the first historic convoy earlier this year. This time, new volunteers have been recruited and are being prepared with the support of the different communities in the area. A special cake was baked by a volunteers, decorated with the flags of all the countries that the convoy will travel through. To keep up to date with the latest developments in Gloucester contact Gulam on 07816655529 or Farouk on 0777 9222570
Bristol-Gaza-Link Association launched at packed meeting
Over two hundred people packed into the main hall of the Bristol Council House on Monday evening (28th September) to launch the Bristol-Gaza-Link Association.
The aims and objectives of the Bristol-Gaza-Link Association will be to build humanitarian, cultural, educational and social links. These links will be with similar groups and organisations primarily in Gaza City. However links with Palestinian populations both in the West Bank and the Diaspora are also possible.
Preparations for the next convoy to Gaza, leaving on the weekend of 5 and 6 December are well underway.
Various documents are due to be sent out over the next few days. They will include registration, vehicle and individual checklists and other necessary paperwork. The route has been finalised and we are contacting the relevant countries as a courtesy before sending that out to you next week.
In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions - and answers! - which we hope should anticipate queries you may already have.
Viva Palestina team
Viva Palestina goes international
D-Day 5 December!
After the success of the UK convoy in February and the US convoy in July, the next convoy is going to be a huge international gathering to deliver more aid to the people of Gaza. We'll be working with more organisations, taking more people from both the UK and US and more desperately needed aid to Gaza. And we want everyone to take part. Click here for full details
Viva Palestina Lifeline II enters Gaza
15th July 2009
The US Viva Palestina convoy today crossed into the Gaza Strip. This is a victory for the people of Gaza. We were determined not to be denied in bringing humanitarian aid to the children of Gaza. The silence of the world is deafening as the people of Gaza suffer, but the two hundred Americans and over one million dollars worth of aide that is going through confirms our commitment to a free Palestine. Long live the people of Palestine .
The Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy enters the Gaza Strip, breaking the deadly Israeli blockade imposed on 1.5 million Palestinians for a second time.
The American aid convoy carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of supplies for the people of Gaza crossed the Rafah border on Wednesday upon receiving permission from Cairo after a 10-day delay.
The 200 activists are allowed to stay in the coastal territory only for 24 hours, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Viva Palestina activists, all Americans, including Charles Barron, a New York City Councilman, say that they have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing for about 10 days despite earlier arrangements.
The humanitarian aid convoy consisting of 50 vehicles is the second organized by British Member of Parliament and Press TV presenter George Galloway.
The Viva Palestina U.S. convoy has been facing barrier after barrier in recent days despite having initially hoped to cross into the Gaza Strip this morning. The Egyptian government, collaborator in Israel's severe blockade for the past 2 years, has set up a course of administrative obstacles which will delay the group's entry into Gaza.
READ MORE HERE
Viva Palestina US: Convoy Update #3
July 12, 2009, 11:45 pm Cairo
The Viva Palestina members who spent the night in their buses at the Suez Crossing after being stopped by Egyptian authorities on July 11 have now rendezvoused in Cairo with British Member of Parliament George Galloway and former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who has rushed to join the convoy following her deportation from Israel on Wednesday.
Galloway, McKinney and the Viva Palestina leadership have been working with Egyptian and U.S. authorities to expedite the passage of the convoy over the Suez Canal and into Gaza.
The 100 Viva Palestina humanitarian volunteers have decided to stay the night in their buses at the Mubarak Peace Bridge over the Suez Canal despite pressure from the Egyptian security officials to return to Cairo.
The official reason given at the checkpoint for refusing to allow them to cross is that the officials there did not have a list of the names of the members of the convoy. Such a list was, however, at the request of the Egyptian authorities before any of the convoy members set foot in Egypt sent to the Egyptian ambassadors to Washington, D.C., and London.
Over 170 Americans and others are on their way to break the suffocating siege of Gaza! Our communities have been raising funds to buy medicines and medical supplies to take to the people of Gaza, which has been sealed off at all borders and the Mediteranean coast, mostly by Israel but with some cooperation by Egypt. After twenty-two days of Israeli bombing, this isolation is deadly: Palestinians are rarely allowed to leave to get medical care, nor are they able to import what they need.
The Gloster2Gaza team are following up their convoy visit with an idea to support a Women's Bread Making Oven in Gaza which will cost approximately £3,500. One of the simple but very popular ideas being used to raise the money is to sell fruit smoothies, shakes and home-made cakes each week at various community venues. Above is a picture of Farouk Shaikh & Abid Motara, the Shakes & Cakes team, in action outside the Friendship Cafe youth and community centre. One convoy member who happens to be a beekeeper also donated his local honey, sales of which go towards the Bread Oven Project.
Call Farouk Shaikh for more details: 07957545125
One of the most common questions we're being asked is how long the 4th October convoy will take.
The trip this time – via Europe, Syria, and Jordan before crossing over to Egypt – will definitely be shorter than last time. Did you know that Gaza is actually only 2225 miles in a straight line from London? Of course, roads and ferries mean that the actual distance we drive will be different — more like 3000 miles. This is still less than the last convoy. How Long will it take? The convoy will take approximately 3 weeks from start to finish.
The documentary 'Lifeline to Gaza' about the Viva Palestina convoy will be aired in two parts of 26 minutes on Press TV on Wednesday 13th May and Thursday 14th May.
Part 1: Wednesday 13th May at 9.30am, 2.30pm, 9.30pm (Times are for the UK - GMT +1hr)
Part 2: Thursday 14th May at 3.30am, 9.30am, 2.30pm (Times are for the UK - GMT + 1 hr)
It is the first of two hour long documentaries covering the convoy from different angles. The second one can be expected towards the end of June. Press TV is available on Sky Television or watch online at www.presstv.ir
A letter from Palestine
from Mr Mohammed Faraj Alghool, Head of Change & Reform Bloc, Palestine Legislative Council to George Galloway MP
13th April 2009
Letter of Appreciation and Acknowledgements
We at the Change and Reform Bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council hereby express our sincere thanks and appreciation to you for the generous efforts you pay for breaking the unjust siege imposed on our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, this siege which is contrary to the most basic moral values and human rights.
While we appreciate your responsible step in launching the first land convoy which arrived to the Gaza strip, we welcome your efforts for sending more land convoys which contribute in supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, especially after the brutal Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip which occurred under suspicious international silence.
The Parliamentary Reform and Change Bloc also highly appreciate your present step for sending another convoy to the Gaza Strip.
Here we hope you all success and we assure you that these invaluable offers of help effectively in breaking the unjust siege on the resistant Gaza and reduce the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Please accept my sincere respect and highest appreciation,
Mohammed Faraj al-Ghoul
of the parliamentary Change and reform Bloc
GAZA 100 - click logo on right for more information
8th April 2009
Viva Palestina US : ‘We aim for $10 million in aid and 500 vehicles for Gaza.'
Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina aid convoy which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from Britain , George Galloway MP has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner Ron Kovic to launch a similar, but bigger venture from the States.
Galloway announced the initiative at a 1000-strong meeting in Anaheim , South California , rounding off a packed-out, coast to coast speaking tour highlighting the Palestinian cause.
“There's a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine ,” says Galloway , “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”
Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalised in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July , will be the co-leader of the convoy, which will form up in Egypt and make its way to the Rafah crossing and into Gaza
Organisers are aiming for 500 vehicles and $10 million of aid.
“And what better day to head off,” says Galloway , “Than July 4 – Independence Day!”
6th April 2009 Viva Palestina News
With updates on new Viva Palestina co-ordinator, a future convoy, passports, bank accounts, the fire engine and more. CLICK HERE to read
Boycotting Israeli Goods - French style!
George Galloway on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos,
Canada 's award-winning late-night TV talk show, on Monday March
As Judge refuses injunction, follow Gerry Hawke!
In Canada, a federal judge today refused an injunction to force the Canadian government to allow George Galloway to speak at a series of meetings.
We're asking everyone to follow the example of Gerry Hawke. He donated $20 to Viva Palestina, which is accused by the Canadian government of supporting terrorism because it sent aid to Gaza, and has turned himself in to the police, challenging them to prosecute him!
March 27th 2009
They banned the wrong George Erik Wallenberg wonders about the mix-up in Canada where the government allowed in a known war criminal, but kept out a leading opponent of war.
IT SEEMS that the Canadian government, and the immigration ministry in particular, has gotten their Georges confused. Though how you could confuse a bumbling idiot with a Texas drawl for an erudite Scotsman with an oratory of the first degree, is hard to imagine.
Call for a an international movement to open the Rafah Border - Don't let Gaza die
After the massacre of the people of Gaza by the Israeli army that started on December, 27th 2008, the world was moved at the plight of Palestinians. But Gaza remains closed almost hermetically, humanitarian convoys accumulate at the border and only a small part is allowed to enter. Similarly, citizens of various countries, including many Palestinians are stranded in Egypt.
Rod Cox has initiated a cultural and educational exchange in Gaza which is really taking off. He has met with the Ministry of Education there – they are supporting an exchange of children's pictures between Gazan schoolchildren and schoolchildren in the U.K. There are already schools in Cheshire England ready to exchange. Health authorities in Gaza say it is really important for children's mental health that they maintain positive contact with the rest of the world and that this project will help them. The children have not only painted pictures themselves, but Rod's van is now graffittied with their efforts.
Guardian Films, the documentary arm of the Guardian Newspaper, has produced a series of films on alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive against Gaza earlier this year.
The films focus on three separate cases of alleged war crimes;
(1) The use of Palestinian children as human shields.
(2) The systematic targeting of medics and hospitals by the Israeli Army.
(3) The use of state of the art precision weapons such as UAV aircraft to fire on groups of unarmed civilians.
Three documentaries produced by Guardian Films and Clancy Chassay made during a month-long investigation add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead which left over 1400 Palestinians dead.
'Viva, Viva Palestina!' reverberated around the Arrivals Hall at Manchester Airport as Muzaffar Beg, the first of our heroic drivers to emerge from the immigration interrogation, came through the doors. Read more here
Dear Honourable Mr. George Galloway,
I would like to extend my most sincere congratulations and gratitude for accomplishing the incredible mission of "A Lifeline from Britain to Gaza". The unprecedented determination, wisdom, perseverance, integrity, strong ethics, incredible courage that you and the team exhibited throughout this long and challenging journey, that extended across three continents, are highly appreciated and greatly valued by all of us, Palestinians and Muslims in particular,and the whole World in general.
I welcome you as a Palestinian brother of mine...I think Mother Palestine is weeping today with joy not sadness, for having such a son, a hero, that along the many, many long years of suffering, refused to forget.... Refused to forget the horrifying suffering, the tremendous pain, the inhumane genocide...Her rape and torture in every way possible...And he kept on going and going...Until justice and defeat of the siege prevailed. Sir, this is not just a victory for Mother Palestine....but rather a victory for all of humanity indeed.
I salute you my friend, for all what you did and continue to do for my people...We cherish you and admire you.... You are in our hearts and minds now and always.
Best regards, Dalal Alhusseini Muhtadi
(Cousin of the late Faisal Alhusseini)
"We palestinians are completely honoured and overwhelmed with your efforts not to mention your support . And the fact that you have been through alot on your journey here, makes us feel even more proud and more than just happy . That our voices and prayers were not lost in the air and we are heared all over the world .. and specialy that were not alone .
THANK YOU , is not enough to show our real feeling and respect for you all . So welcome to GAZA , and make sure that we all appreciate what you've done and we admire the wonderful work that George Galloway have done to us . So we all want you to consider Gaza as your second home town that where ever you go you have home, and where ever you look there is a welcome smile God bless you all .. and THANK YOU." - Amal Murtaja - Gaza - Palestine .
"Viva Palestina, I am so proud of all my brothers and sisters who participated in this convoy.you are heroes. As a Palestinians living in Morocco, I appreciate all your efforts and sufferings during your long trip, your determination to help the Palestinians and to tell them that there are still honest people who understand and feel their pains.God bless you all . Go ahead. my mind and heart are with you .I wish I was with you during this party to hug all of you and to express my gratitude and respect.I had the honor and the pleasure to receive you when you pass through Rabat in your way to Gaza. Special thanks to the legend Mr. George Galloway.
With my best regards, BAHRIYA "
"Our eyes are brimming with tears of love, joy and hope. Our love and gratitude can not be expressed in words, may Allah ta ala grant you and all those who have played a part in ''VIVA PALESTINA'' ,ease in this life. May he shower his mercy and forgiveness on you all and grant you a lofty place in Jannah. Ameen"
On behalf of all in Global Help Initiative for Palestine ''HI''
Al-Nusirate refugees camp - Gaza strip - Palestine
Palestina Email Alert
23.00 (GMT) Sunday 15th March 2009
They have gone. The 'angels', some called them 'saviours',
but in reality just ordinary men and women who took part in an extraordinary
act - and in doing so brought hope and put smiles on the faces
of thousands of Gaza children have all finally left.
All that remains in Gaza is the aid they left behind - the right-hand
drive vehicles including many ambulances, now roaming the streets
of Rafah, Khan Younes, Beit Hanoun and Gaza City - and the memories.
The memories of those heroes, from all walks of life, who crossed
continents to reach them, of the jokes and laughter they shared,
of the tales of suffering they found the courage to speak about
to their guests.
At the Rafah crossing, where they numbered in excess of sixty five,
they were inconsolable. Some of them sobbing, whilst others were
speechless, sitting at the back of the coach on the way to Cairo,
reflecting on what they have just witnessed and left behind.
After a long wait, they all headed for Al Arich, the scene of their
final push towards Rafah barely a week ago. More waiting was to
follow until transport was finally arranged and their journey home
are never that easy. Last night, some of our team spent several
hours in the unscheduled company of scores of armed Egyptian police
at the side of the road. But the waiting, tense at first, was relieved
with the arrival of food and tea, brought by the Libyan drivers
from the convoy. More police then arrived with a van full of
plastic chairs, so at least they could all sit down as they waited
for ‘instructions'! In the end common sense prevailed and our team
joined the Libyans in their compound for the evening.
Contacts have been established, money was pledged or handed over
for a multitude of projects by Viva Palestina.
Whilst world leaders are pledging billions for Gaza there remain
disagreements on who should take charge of the reconstruction. Viva
Palestina have started the process, George Galloway and the team
walked the walk.
It took one man to show the way and open the door for other brave
men and women to reach this besieged concentration camp known as
the Gaza Strip.
Khalid Amayresh wrote 'I salute you for challenging the forces of
hypocrisy and moral duplicity back in Britain who instead of calling
Israel a criminal state ruled by an evil clique of war criminals,
by its real name, hasten to blame the helpless victims for surviving
the recent genocide in Gaza and clinging to life, dignity and freedom.'
'I salute you for being a "non-conformist", because in a world overwhelmed
by hypocrisy, immorality, human depravity, unethical expediency,
and repulsive political correctness, it takes a true non-conformist
to uphold true human values. And above all, I salute you for exposing
and putting to shame the treacherous Arab leaders who played their
fiddle while Gaza was burning'. The same is true of everyone who
made this convoy possible.
Tonight Gaza reflects, stronger, with some more hope and belief
than before. Viva Palestina was our lifeline for Gaza injecting
love and hope into the veins of Palestinians. Tonight Gaza reflects
on the ‘angels' who came to town and they know that angels always
Farid Arada (additional reporting by Clive Searle)
Palestina Email Alert
18.00 (GMT) Saturday 14th March
GAZA - WE WILL BE BACK SOON
He led a convoy to bring aid to the Palestinian people in Gaza. His convoy crossed mountains and the seas from the British islands to mainland Europe then crossing the western Sahara to reach the north African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sinai and Gaza. Thousands of kilometres and miles, with a humanitarian, moral and an equitable political aim.
George Galloway was not an Arab living next to Palestine or belonging to the Arab nation, but he was a free man belonging to free humanity, he detached himself from partisan politics, civilizations, languages and geographical differences. His stances were highly moral by excellence, he called for justice to the weak, His mission touched the hearts of the free, he did not talk the talk, he walked the walk.
(Some extracts translated from a piece by Hassan Abu Hachish, Palestinian Info Centre)
The majority of the remaining Viva Palestina convoy members and activists were leaving Gaza today - exactly one month after the convoy departed on its epic journey from Hyde Park in London. I could not get a word out of some of them, as they were extremely upset. The bond they have developed with the people of Gaza will undoubtedly last for many years.
Viva Palestina will cross at Rafah today, not for the last time, because they will soon be back with more aid, assistance, activists and above all, with hope and messages from the people of Britain. We want Gaza to know that we have broken barriers once and WE WILL break them again.
On their last day, they visited a mixed school. They sat in some of the classes, in particular, an English language lesson.
The Viva Palestina guest asked them to start a project where they will write about their history, using pictures from their country. Their work will be sent to selected British schools who are willing to explore the possibility of twinning projects with Gaza schools.
Some houses destroyed by phosphorous bombs were visited today. The members recorded the scenes and saw unexploded bombs, tank shells and the remnants of the IDF's prohibited weaponry.
Others were in Beit Hanoun, where the headmistress of a Foundation training centre and a nursery project showed Viva Palestina around. Here young children are taught literacy skills whilst women train in sewing and other skills.
The story of a 85 years old Palestinian attracted the attention of the team leaders and members at Beit Hanoun. He was looking fit and healthy for his age. He took them to a field, which had been his orange grove, until the Israelis dug up all his fifty years old orange trees using their bulldozers.
The old man had gone back and replanted every single acre of his orange grove with olive trees. He vowed that he will keep replanting it every time the invaders destroy his grove.
All the vehicles delivered are at work already. Palestinians over the years have shown the ability to adapt quickly to a new situation. A right hand drive ambulance in the streets of Gaza may be a first, but every time a child comes across one of our vehicles, they will remember Viva Palestina and the people of Britain who did not forget them.
The remaining teams are heading back with heavy hearts - torn at leaving their new found friends, brothers and sisters, behind to the mercy of the IDF, their F16s and their drones. They have lived the dream of walking amongst the brave of Gaza. We will celebrate their return. We will listen to their tales, we will admire their courage and without a doubt, we will aspire to be there ourselves, next time.
Prepared and translated by Farid Arada
Palestina Email Alert
20.00 (GMT) Friday 13th March 2009
DEVASTATED COUNTRY – A NATION UNDEFEATED
was the verdict of the members of the Viva Palestina convoy and
support team left behind to evaluate the damage and the urgent needs
into groups and headed for the Palestinian Hydrology Group to assess
the damage to the water tanks cause by the pounding of the IDF artillery.
Plans were made for Viva Palestina to help in the funding of a desalination
plant and freshwater wells. Money will be dispersed to funding these
projects, as water is so essential to a normal life.
visited the Zakat Foundation in Zeitun. Here widows spoke of their
plight and their desparate needs, some of whom are now living in
makeshift homes in a cemetery. Amongst the other places visited
by Viva Palestina were a bakery, one of the few still operating
on a shoestring budget to keep the children and the sick fed.
activists also visited a fish farm where they witnessed the process
of fish incubation, so essential as the IDF prevents Palestinian
boats from fishing in their territorial waters. More orphanages
have been visited today including the Islamic Association Orphanage.
One of our
teams spent time with Majed Adallah Alathmna. Majed lost most of
his family in a 2006 Israeli assault. Attempting to re-start his
life he moved to a new area to the south of Gaza only to have his
house blown to pieces by the Israeli army in January.
also inspected the Nasser and Yaffa hospitals where they spoke to
badly wounded and burns patients and recorded some harrowing tales
of slaughter, bravery and, equally, of resistance. Many medical
clinics were on the agenda to be inspected.
The whole of
Gaza seems to be a hospital, as not one Palestinian was spared in
the onslaught. Every soul has been affected - especially the younger
generation. Yet the amazing thing a member of Viva Palestina told
me was that 'Everyone manages a smile - a true genuine smile in
the face of death and a barbaric siege.'
On a happier
note, some activists today were invited to a Palestinian engagement
party and shared the celebrations of the families involved. Above
were the Israeli reconnaissance drones and F16s, in the distance
could be heard the dull thud of bombing and the crack of gunfire.
From out at sea the IDF were shelling once again, while above them
hovered a huge barrage balloon festooned with cameras. But the party
went on - sending a message to the murderers above, which says simply,
' You will never kill our way of life and our spirits will never
and Clive Searle
Palestina Email Alert
19.30 (GMT) Thursday 12th March 2009
AND VIVA PALESTINA...ONE FAMILY
A Zionist frigate
was bombing the fishermen’s boats last night in Gaza. Whilst
the world remains silent Gaza is still being pounded by cowards
from the air and sea. Last night, they bombed tunnels close to heavily
populated areas of the strip.
Yesterday, and for the best part of today, the Viva Palestina members
who have ayed on visited a number of places including a women's
project and a water desalination plant - in addition to visiting
a hospital and the ambulance station.
Some members were shown sites where there remains debris from the
internationally banned white phosphorous bombs that caused agonising
burns and death to the Gaza population. Meetings have continued
to take place with various charity representatives and project managers.
The most moving
story was heard from the remaining members of a large Gaza family
whose story caused an outrage when the Israelis forced them into
an empty building, then bombed it from the air.
The IDF did not stop at that, as they then prevented ambulances
from getting to the site for days, which meant that the children
who survived lay helpless under the rubble next to the bodies of
their mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters.
Many chilling stories were heard, at first hand, today by Viva Palestina
which makes this incredible journey much more fascinating and worthwhile.
on twinning projects took place today and an orphanage, a school
and a clinic were singled out as suitable candidates for the twinning
projects with towns of districts in the North West.
toured a number of camps where scores of tents were erected and
they distributed cash donations: fulfilling the personal wishes
wish of the many benefactors who could not make the journey themselves.
from the members left behind that solidarity with Gaza is a long-term
project. Their mission is now a fact finding one, which will be
followed by other visits in the near future. Viva Palestina is here
to stay and will not abandon one and a half million people, now
that it has broken this barbaric siege.
the Palestinian Information Centre today, and according to the spokesman
for the Governmental Committee for Breaking the Siege, 'The arrival
of Viva Palestina, the Scottish convoy 'Justice for Gaza' and the
Libyan convoy is a victory for the will of the Palestinian people
and an important link in the breaking of the Zionist siege'.
also confirmed that the Arab and foreign activists registered with
their courage a new legendary chapter in support of the Palestinian
people - and that their will power has succeeded in breaking the
siege and defeating the Zionist invader.
Today I asked
a member of Viva Palestina, whilst he was inspecting sites of war
torn Gaza, how he felt. He said ' I feel safe, relaxed, loved, I
feel amongst my family and it is going to be heart breaking to leave
The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Bishop Riah, today phoned George
Galloway as he returned to London from Gaza, to offer his congratulations
for the success of the convoy. He told George that he had wanted
to join the convoy in Gaza but was refused permission by the Israelis,
as he is in Jerusalem.
and Gaza are one family now, for years to come until the day Gaza
and Palestine are FREE.
Palestina Email Alert
17.00 (GMT) Wednesday 11th March 2009
Many were in
tears, some of them inconsolable at having to leave their new-found
family. Today, a large number of the convoy members and the activists
who joined them in Gaza made their way to the infamous Rafah crossing
to leave Palestine and head home.
who met with Prime minister Ismael Hania last night, was due to
leave today too. It was a warm meeting where the PM thanked Viva
Palestina for breaking the siege and, by doing so, gave a moral
boost to the people of Gaza and hope to every Palestinian child.
On leaving, George described the destruction as 'unbelievable' and
a siege of 'medieval' proportions.
Minister Hania handed George his personal Prime Minister's passport
as a symbolic gesture of gratitude and appreciation for his stance
with the Palestinian people. Other gifts and souvenirs were handed
to members of Viva Palestina.
from Viva Palestina Manchester is being considered by the Gaza officials
to twin Cheetham Hill with Rafah, as a symbolic gesture and a show
of unity. Cheetham Hill was the departure point for the Manchester
contingent and where the Palestine Solidarity Campaign was started
in the city many years ago.
stayed behind today to tour the area and to meet with various bodies
and officials - in order to assess and evaluate the urgent needs
of the Gaza population.
the only convoy leader who decided to stay behind, visited an orphanage
housing between 100 to 150 orphans. They listened to harrowing accounts
of the slaughter that took away the lives of their loved ones.
are so traumatised after spending days and nights under the rubble
of their demolished homes, with the bodies of their parents, that
they cannot speak.
Then, the Viva
Palestina members visited an area where tents were erected to house
the destitute who lost their homes after the bombings. Each tent
has a capacity of between 10-15 people. In These extreme weather
conditions, whole families sleep on hard ground, struggling to keep
themselves warm in the freezing nights.
F16s bombed Gaza again making martyrs of eight souls. An activist
told me that one of the bombs exploded only 200 yards from where
they were sleeping. She said ' I went back to sleep '.
That is the
measure of Viva Palestina and the measure of the people of Gaza,
who daily say to Israel, “Your bombs do not scare us and they
will NEVER defeat us!”
and translated by Farid Arada
Palestina Email Alert
19.00 (GMT) Tuesday 11th March
THE ‘ANGELS’ ARE IN TOWN
Gaza woke up
this morning not to the sounds of F16s and the awful smells and
white smoke of phosphorous bombs, but to the amazing sights of those
‘angels’ who have defied the odds to be with them in
this time of great need.
is in celebration, you can see for the first time in a long while
a smile on the faces of traumatised young children who cannot fathom
what is going on around them.
It was a day
also for George Galloway, the leader of Viva Palestina who addressed
a rally in the centre of Gaza City. He reiterated that Ismael Hania
is the only and legitimate elected leader of the Palestinian people.
said that there is a crisis in the Arab regimes, because their people
and some of their officials, their officers at border controls all
despise the siege on the people of Palestine.
He added that
he would like to thank the Palestinians for the reception Viva Palestina
received and for the opportunity to kiss this sacred land on the
anniversary of the birth of the Prophet (PBUH).
Then he addressed
the members of the convoy saying that, “You have now become
heroes and legends. No one will ever forget you in Palestine. Your
children and brothers will value your actions and will be proud
Zein Eddine who is two, can see me now on TV from London and he
is saying ‘LONG LIVE PALESTINE' When he is a grown man, he
will remember that his father decided to get to Palestine and that
one day he will, with his own son, come back to Palestine and its
has been split into groups to allow them to move around war torn
Gaza. They have seen at first hand the destruction of hospitals,
schools, ministries and official buildings. They visited El salam
neighbourhood, El Wafa hospital, the Islamic University and various
They will tour
the strip and assess what is urgently needed so that plans to follow
on with further aid work can be considered on their return.
some members benefited from the hospitality of the Foreign minister.
Everyone is overwhelmed by the welcome and generosity of the Palestinians
considering they have been left with so little.
I am told that
a large number of the Convoy will start leaving Gaza tomorrow. Apparently,
the Egyptians have told them that the border may close and that
therefore they may be stuck in Gaza for days.
Will keep you
and translated by Farid Arada
Palestina Email Alert
00.00 (GMT) Tuesday 10th March 2009
THE SIEGE -
BEGINNING OF THE END?
The Viva Palestina
convoy drove slowly along the Salah Eddine road leading to Gaza
City taking in the atmosphere around them and savouring the moment
of history they had just created.
Along the way, thousands of Palestinians, the other heroes of this
beautiful story of resistance, defiance and hope approached every
vehicle kissing, touching, hugging the bravest of Britain. They
handed their babies, their young children, to the convoy members
so that they could be embraced, as if the angels were in town. Drenched
in flowers, tears were flowing on both sides.
Further up the road, they could see people coming out of their tents
and the ruins of their destroyed homes running towards them, rubbing
their eyes in disbelief that the siege has been broken and they
were not alone.
to the Palestinian Information Centre, George Galloway in his historic
speech from Al Katiba Square, confirmed that Ismael Hania is the
legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and a prime
minister for all the free of the world
He also said that the members of the convoy are not from the upper
class of the UK, but from all walks of life, all religions, all
colours. The donations came from ordinary people, from mosques and
churches. He also said that millions could not make this journey,
but they are all praying today for you, the people of Palestine.
In Gaza City, it was jubilations and celebrations tonight where
the guests of honour did not want to be considered as guests - but
as part of the ever-growing Gaza family. The Gaza authorities have
organised a rally in honour of Viva Palestina and a program of activities
that includes a tour of the damaged areas including schools, hospitals
and other amenities.
Some support members of Viva Palestina who managed to cross on foot
after a ten-hour wait at the border are staying at Rafah tonight
as guests of the Gaza governing authorities. Unfortunately, some
other members are still awaiting permission to cross. They are hoping
that the Egyptians will allow them to join their friends tomorrow.
An eventful day, with a roller-coaster of emotions, is drawing to
an close. Tomorrow Viva Palestina will tour Gaza to see, at first
hand, the plight of one and half million people in the densest concentration
of people per square kilometre on the globe.
They will report on the scale of the calamity in what, in reality,
is the world’s biggest concentration camp, where people have
endured a never-ending siege and where they have nowhere to run
when the F16s decide to play their deadly game with the children
15.30 (GMT) Monday 9th March 2009
MEN CRYING...THE SIEGE IS BROKEN...
ON THE DAY THE PROPHET WAS BORN
And they entered
side by side like heroes, some on foot some in their vehicles, tears,
smiles, hugs, flowers. It was historic, it was legendary. Gaza we
are here. We have fulfilled the promise - Viva Palestina! The lifeline
from the people of Britain to you, the people of Gaza, has arrived.
We have broken
the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the
odds,we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and
three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to
share your tragedy with you.
morning of intense negotiations, a deal was reached to allow all
of the members of the convoy to go through. In the end, Viva Palestina
had to make the sacrifice of agreeing that some vehicles will have
to cross the border from the Al Ouja Israeli controlled crossing
point. This includes our mascot, the fire engine and the boat. This
was due to the restrictions imposed by Egyptian law governing the
A tearful Talat
Ali told me that 'Rafah is the most beautiful crossing in the world',
he also said that the time , effort and sacrifices put in by all
the Viva Palestina family meant that history has been made today
- on the day the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was born.
made an emotional speech thanking the people of Gaza for the wonderful
reception and assuring them that for Viva Palestina and in our millions,
"WE ARE ALL PALESTINIANS!" George also reiterated that
the people of Palestine have voted and that their voice should be
Today the convoy
will head along the Salah Eddine road towards Gaza City witnessing
along the way the destruction and death caused by the Israeli war
machine. Along the way they will be greeted by the people of Gaza
who will know that Viva Palestina is here and that they will NEVER
Palestina Email Alert
08.00 (GMT) Monday 9th March 2009
has started to move out of the two car parks in Al Arish and onto
the road to Rafah. At 7.55 (GMT) George's party reported that the
first of the two car parks was now almost empty. It took 90 minutes
for all the vehicles to leave. They were waiting for the second
group of vehicles to get on the road. George intended his vehicle
to be the last to leave - to ensure the safe departure of the entire
with the Egyptian authorities have continued. Some non-medical aid
was unloaded, in the line with the outcome of the negotiations,
and has been handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent for delivery
by them to Gaza.
expects to cross later today into Gaza.
(GMT) Sunday 8th March
First convoy heroes return to UK
Viva Palestina convoy members refused entry to Egypt have returned
home to Britain. They were welcomed this evening by up to 50 supporters
from Viva Palestina at Manchester Airport who gave our brothers
a heroes' welcome.
Palestina Email Alert
23.30 (GMT) Sunday 8th March
Viva Palestina aid convoy is spending the night in Al Arish close
to the Rafah crossing after an eventful day. At one point everything
seemed to point out to a smooth crossing until they hit new obstacles,
which were not resolved later in the day (see earlier posts)
trucks carrying medical aid have been allowed through. There is
a consensus though amongst the members of the convoy that no vehicle
will go through any Israeli controlled crossing. The motto is 'ALL
for one and one for ALL'.
They are hopeful
that early in the morning, they will start their final leg of a
very long journey and roll into Gaza - where thousands of Palestinians
have waited all day at the gates of Rafah to greet and welcome them.
left in tears, disappointed on hearing the news that their heroes
were being prevented from crossing.
I am told by
team leaders that a security system has been set up to ensure the
safety of the convoy members tonight. Relatives should not be worried,
everybody is pulling together and the spirits remain high.
I am also told
that the Egyptian Red Crescent is in the process of unloading some
vehicles of food and clothing destined to the Gaza people. Some
vans have completely been emptied.
will resume in the morning as to the inclusion of the fire engine,
the generator and the boat in the crossing.
The world is
watching an event of epic proportions. The Egyptian people would
love to see a bunch of brave men and women - who have travelled
so far and got so close to achieving their goal and completing their
mission - be allowed to deliver their aid and be embraced by the
people of Gaza.
Palestina Convoy Update
15.30 (GMT) Sunday 8th March
AT RAFAH CROSSING
The Viva Palestina
convoy is still stuck 40km from the Rafah border crossing at Al
Arish after failing to progress through the border gates to Gaza.
day new obstacles have been placed in the path of the convoy passing
into Gaza via the Rafar crossing.
whole convoy is determined to stay united in purpose and in one
piece - and that all vehicles and equipment including the convoy's
mascot, the red fire engine as well as the boat and the Bolton generator
will enter Gaza together.
and other convoy leaders have been involved in lengthy negotiations
all day with the Egyptian authorities to find a solution and remove
these obstacles. Negotiations will carry on for the rest of the
day but it does look likely that the convoy will not cross into
Gaza today. Indeed, Yvonne Ridley reports, from the Viva Palestina
compound in Al Arish, that these is now a football match taking
place between the British and Libyan drivers
is hopeful that the humanitarian aid they have carried for 24 days
over 10,000km, across seven countries and two continents, entering
their third continent yesterday, will finally reach the needy and
destitute people and children of Gaza without any further delays.
Will keep you
On a brighter
note, the Scottish Medical Aid convoy which passed into Gaza yesterday
reports that they have distributed all their medical aid to the
Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza – including the keys to their trucks.
They await the passage of our convoy and send their solidarity greetings.
Arada and Clive Searle
Palestina Convoy Update
12 .30 (GMT) Sunday 8th March
are all at the Rafah crossing point. All members of the convoy made
it, joined by supporters of Viva Palestina who flew out from the
Sadly, it was
not the end of their gruelling journey as they are finding life
difficult at the border.
Press TV reports
that leaders of the convoy including George Galloway and deputy
leader Talat Ali and Nazir are in intense negotiations with the
Egyptians. Reports coming to us suggest that they expect every vehicle
to be allowed to cross today.
Ridley reports on Press TV that there are rumours that there is
an attempt to move some of the convoy to Israeli controlled crossings.
Members of the convoy are united in their determination to cross
at the Rafah border crossing. The Libyan contingent, which comprises
100 trucks, is adamant that under NO circumstances they will cross
through an Israeli controlled crossing. Will keep you updated.
the deputy manager of the reception committee in Gaza confirms that
the key to the opening of the Rafah crossing is with Egypt. The
Viva Palestina convoy is another nail in the coffin of the siege
according to Mr Al-Najjar.
will take place at the gate of the Rafah crossing where the convoy
will be greeted with flowers and flags. Then they will taken through
the Salah Eddine main road to Gaza City where they will witness
the destruction that the Israelis inflicted on the Palestinian people.
After a rest and gathering in Katiba Square, the convoy will be
divided into groups, some staying in Rafah, some in Khan Younes
and the rest in the North.
Palestina Convoy Update
22.30 (GMT) Saturday 7th March
- WE ARE ALMOST THERE
The Souad Viva
Palestina convoy is entering the town of El Arich
after a long trek of 10 hours on the roads and motorways of Egypt.
Gaza is within
touching distance and the dreams and aspirations of so many members
of this magnificent adventure will be realised tomorrow when they
enter Gaza carrying not only aid, but also the hopes of the millions
to see the siege broken.
convoy members had to endure a hard journey. They only stopped on
a couple of occasions after setting off from Jamsa - and did not
stop as planned at the El Salam Bridge.
is now being taken to their accommodation. A press conference and
speeches were planned but as it is very late in the night, this
may be shelved.
the Palestinian Information Centre bulletin this evening, the 'Justice
for Palestine' Scottish convoy managed to get into Gaza late this
afternoon after the Egyptian authorities gave permission for the
crossing to take place at Rafah.
To our knowledge
the convoy includes 20 members in 10 vehicles carrying vital medical
aid and equipment for the people of Gaza.
crossed into Gaza after 60 female American peace activists managed
earlier to cross the Rafah gate to show their support to the women
of Gaza, on the eve of International Women’s Day, and to call
for the lifting of the siege.
Many news agencies
and reporters are awaiting the arrival of this phenomenal convoy.
Al Jazzera reports that their crew has been prevented from reporting
the arrival of the convoy at El Arich.
Arich will experience something special when the people of this
town will witness at first hand the arrival of the saviours of Gaza.
They will see lorries, vans, cars, driven by humble human beings
coming in peace - carrying vital aid and supplies - and answering
the critics and sceptics who doubted the aims of this noble mission.
western mass media remains silent in its coverage of this massive
story, a story created by the people of Britain, with aid coming
from the people of Britain.
the cries of the people of Gaza, once again, Gaza exposes the hypocrisy,
double standards and opportunism of the British media.
But the British
people can see through this injustice, and like never before, Gaza
has broken into many British homes and has touched many British
and translated by Farid Arada
Palestina Convoy Update
19.00 (GMT) Friday 6th March 2009
After a long
rest at Matruh, the Viva Palestina convoy started the day late by
heading east. Apparently, some were so exhausted that they slept
on till late morning.
groups to make the drive and escort manageable, they were planning
to stop for Friday prayers along the way. Some groups were delayed
and could not make it.
They are driving
to JEMSA (GEMSA) on the coast, their next
location for the night. I am told that it is looking like midnight
by the time the last vehicle reaches the coastal town. A reception
and dinner is being organised by the local authorities.
On that note,
Akhbar Elyom newspaper reported today that the General Secretariat
of the National Party is overseeing the reception and monitoring
the progress of the convoy across various provinces. Working groups
have been set up to ensure the various services are provided to
the convoy such as accommodation, food and fuel. Young guides and
helpers will be on hand to assist convoy members when they stop
in their cities.
AlJazeera.net today, a source from the convoy confirmed that the
name of the convoy has been changed to 'SOUAD VIVA PALESTINA' as
a sign of respect and commemoration for the Libyan journalist Souad
Abu Shiba after her tragic death whilst travelling to cover the
good news arrived today from Egypt where the SCOTTISH
MEDICAL AID CONVOY arrived this morning in the Red Sea port
of Nuweiba. They will be heading north through the Sinai.
The 'Souad Viva Palestina' convoy is expected to set off in the
morning for the East El Salam Bridge where they will stop for lunch,
then a long drive will follow for the town of El Arich where a rally
is expected to take place from 7.00pm.
and prepared by Farid Arada
10am Short press conference
2pm Rest at EAST AL SALAM BRIDGE- Dinner
4pm Set off for EL ARICH
7pm Dinner and overnight stay
10am Public Rally at EL ARICH
11am head for RAFAH CROSSING
12 noon deliver aid to GAZA.
19.00 (GMT) Thursday 5th March
A SMOOTH CROSSING INTO
The convoy was
over 3 miles long and contained about 220 vehicles. So it was an
awesome sight when finally, at about 1.00pm local time, the first
vehicles rolled into Egypt, where they were met at the borders by
officials and a jubilant crowd.
The Egyptians organised the convoy into smaller groups and set off
towards the town of SALUM, their first stop. The convoy was handled
with military precision by the army and the police. I am told and
everyone was relieved at the speed of the crossing.
In Salum they were met by children, who handed them flowers, and
they were warmly welcomed by the people. Then they were taken to
a huge tent where a press conference was held and a reception ceremony
Lunch was on the menu, before being whisked away to continue their
journey towards the beautiful coastal town of MATRUH.
A lavish reception awaits them in this picturesque part of Egypt
where they are expected to enjoy the sea breeze after experiencing
the beauty and quietness of the desert.
Overall, a good start to the final leg of the journey. Gaza is getting
ever so close and the mission is close to being accomplished.
The Gaddafi Foundation for Charity and Development sent a message
to Viva Palestina expressing its sorrow and offering its condolences
for the family of the deceased Journalist Souad Abu Shiba and wish
a quick recovery for her colleagues Ibrahim Hania, and the photographer
Salah Nejm after the tragic car accident which occurred yesterday.
Prepared and translated by Farid Arada
20.00 (GMT) Wednesday 4rd March
SO NEAR TO THE END
a Libyan female journalist on her way to join our convoy, was involved,
along with her colleague and a photographer in a road traffic accident,
which unfortunately resulted in her death. Her two colleagues were
also injured ain the crash, but the extent of their injuries is
of the Manchester contingent Talat Ali and Rabah Abdulramuz would
like, on behalf of the Viva Palestina British convoy, to pass on
their condolences and prayers to the families of the young lady
and a speedy recovery for the injured.
like to reassure the families back home that all of the British
members are safe. However, understandably the mood is very sombre
this evening and a Janaza (funeral ceremony) prayer has been organised
by the convoy members this evening.
are now about 20km from the border with Egypt. The Egyptian government
has taken charge of the arrangements to ensure a smooth and comfortable
crossing of Egypt by Viva Palestina tomorrow morning.
delegate from The National Party is in the border area preparing
the welcome. He has informed the leaders of the route they will
be taking and of the program of events awaiting them.
is a brief summary, translated from the Arabic program.
Stop at SALUM - Rest-Dinner- Press conference
4pm Leave for MATRUH- Evening meal- Overnight Stay
9am Leave for ALAMEIN
12pm Dinner, Stop for special Jumaa (Friday prayers)
3pm RAFED MIAMI- Light lunch
10pm The Arab Contractors Village -Dinner and overnight stay
12.00 noon (GMT) Wednesday 4rd March 2009
A NIGHT UNDER
THE DESERT STARS
It was an experience
they will never forget. Spending a night in their vehicles under
the desert moonlight. ' I loved it', one of the drivers said to
me. Even for the novice campers, it was a unique insight into the
beauty of the desert in the middle of nowwhere.
As I am writing,
the first group are 30KM from AMSA'AD border crossing point which
is about 2k from the border. The second contingent is not far away.
They will all
gather there until tomorrow morning when they are expected to start
crossing into Egypt.
arrangements on the Egyptian side and on the processing time from
both the Libyans and the Egyptians border control, they should start
the final leg of their epic journey tomorrow.
an Email translated from Arabic, sent by the deputy convoy leader,
it is likely that the convoy will take the following route: SALUM-
SIDI KRIR-INTERNATIONAL HIGHWAY-DUMYAT PROVINCE-ALSALAM BRIDGE-AL-ARICH-
should reach GAZA on saturday or sunday depending on breakdowns
and refuelling times.
Will keep you
translated by Farid Arada
21.30 (GMT) Tuesday 3rd March
IN ON TUBRUK
Having opted for the short cut through the desert road, the convoy
decided to split into two. Many breakdowns have been reported as
well as a minor accident with no casualties to report.
Few minutes ago, I spoke to the deputy leader of the convoy who
confirm that due to the nature of the terrain and the area, it was
necessary to have two convoys, one following the other one. The
slower convoy will ensure that the necessary repairs are carried
out and no one is left behind whilst the first one pushes on towards
It is estimated that the first contingent will reach Tubruk this
evening. The second contingent is about 100-150 km away and they
may stop for the night and join the rest tomorrow.
Once in Tubruk, it is planned that the crossing into Egypt will
take place on Thursday morning. If the processing of the convoy
by the Libyan and Egyptian border control is a smooth one, then
they may even start crossing tomorrow afternoon. The Convoy leaders
would like to thank the Egyptian government for their help in this
Once in Egypt, the deputy leader confirms that they will not go
to Cairo. They will bypass the capital and the route may be subject
to last minute changes depending on various factors.
Until both convoys get to Tubruk, the information we are getting
remains limited. We will update as soon as proper communication
11.30 (GMT) Tuesday 3rd March
OPT FOR DESERT ROUTE
the hospitality of Ras Lanouf, it was felt that the call of Gaza
was getting louder and louder and that the aid has to get there
as soon as possible.
took place between our convoy leaders and their Libyan counterparts
and it was decided that the route will be amended to take the convoy
through the desert road to the crossing point of AMSA'AD.
that they will not go through Benghazi and Bayda where rallies and
accomodation had been prepared for them to the disappointment of
thousands of Libyans.
off at 08.00am local time,they have just stopped in AJDABIYAH after
a 200km treck,for fuel and refreshments.
them is No Man's Land for another 400km (240 miles). They will be
stopping when needed for rest,prayers and food.
Even on the
map there are no landmarks and the phone signals can be poor.
I am told that
one of north west vans was involved in a minor accident and that
ALL ARE SAFE and well. Unfortunately the van could not continue
on its epic jouney. The families need not worry as the convoy is
united and doing well in its noble mission.
The plan for
today is to drive on and stop for the night when it gets dark. If
it all goes to plan,there is every likelihood that the crossing
into Egypt will take place sometimes tomorrow.
and translated by Farid Arada
19.00 (GMT) Monday 2nd March
WILL NEVER FORGET THE PEOPLE OF MISRATA
would not let us leave without us sharing a banquet lunch with them,'
one of our drivesr said about the generous and kind people of Misrata.
In the Amman
Family Tourist village by the sea,our convoy enjoyed a well deserved
break in a 5* setting of chalets and restaurants.
are the most beautifull people we have encountered, they came in
their droves from all over Misrata to see us and savour the moment,'
another driver said.
It was not
until around 4.00pm our time that they set off for RAS
LANOUF, their next stop for the night passing through the city
They all seem
in high spirits. It is obvious that Libya has provided them with
the facilities to recuperate and recharge before pushing on towards
is with the convoy, said to Libya Elyoum newspaper, that it is thanks
to the Gaddafi Foundation and its head Seyf El-Islam Gaddafi, that
this convoy is enjoying a smooth crossing of Libya, and that he
was keen to establish a partnership with this foundation to guarantee
the success of the convoy. He also said that 'we say little and
that theLlibyan contingent of about 100 trucks 'knows the road to
Gaza' because they are better than any map in the world in helping
our drivers get to their ultimate destination safely.
He goes on
to add that a number of British and Egyptian personalities are expected
to join the convoy in Egypt including members of parliament and
As I am writing,they
are now stopping KHAZZAN ALKARDABIA where a festive 'gala dinner'
awaits them. They will then set off for Ras Lanouf for their overnight
and translated by Farid Arada
22.30 (GMT) Sunday 1st March
VILLAGE IS BORN IN MISURATA
is in Misurata. The hospitality of the Libyan people, government
and the Gaddafi Foundation has left the convoy members in tears.
After the the
public rally in Tripoli today (pictures
here), they set off with an additional 60 Libyan vehicles loaded
with humanitarean aid and medecine towards the coastal town of Misrata.
They were met with jubilant ordinary Libyans who hold Palestine
and Gaza close to their hearts.
and the Gaddafi Foundation are ensuring the smooth and safe passage
of the convoy through Libya by providing everything the convoy needs
- from free fuel to accomodation and repairs, etc.
our drivers and their passengers were being driven in coaches to
the newly built and inaugurated GAZA VILLAGE on the outskirt of
Misrata. It is a tribute to the memory of the fallen martyrs of
Gaza and a message to the children of Palestine from a long standing
staunch ally of their just cause.
Libyan TV News this evening, the convoy could reach 300 vehicles
by the time it reaches the border. I have just seen the size of
some of the HGV's going to Gaza lined up with ours. It is an awsome
sight,a mammoth task only made possible by some legendary men and
In one of the
speeches today in Tripoli, one of the convoy leaders said to the
crowd that this convoy was not just a Viva Palestina British, Islamic,
Christian, Arab and European but it was first and foremost humanitarian,
where all humanity in all its diverse cultures, languages and religions
contributed to it.
One of our convoy members said to the Arabic newspaper Libya Elyoum
today "This is the best welcome we received. What is different
this time is that the authorities did not try to stop the people
mingling and getting close to us, nothing was orchestrated, it was
natural and spontaneous.."
a big day as Libya celebrates the creation of the Republic (Jamahiria).The
convoy will head for SIRT where they will savour Libyan hospitality
Prepared and translated by Farid Arada
11.30 (GMT) Sunday 1st March
MET BY HUGE CROWDS IN TRIPOLI
They are in
their thousands in the Green Public square of Tripoli attending
a big rally to welcome the Viva Palestina humanitarian Gaza convoy.
This is the first of many planned in Libya.
dignitaries, representatives from the Gadaffi Foundation as well
as the children of Palestine have spoken of the horrors and the
tragedy of Gaza.
Gift bags containing
caps, T-Shirts, books have been given to members of the convoy as
a gesture of thanks and admiration for their efforts to get the
aid to the destitute people of Gaza.
Up to 100 Libyan
trucks are joining the convoy starting with the Tripoli contingent
today including ambulances and a fire engine. The Gaddafi International
Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) is sending a considerable
quantity of medical aid.
and sandwiches, they will head for the city of Misrata passing and
possibly stopping in Khums.
22.00 (GMT) Saturday 28th
QUIET NIGHT BEFORE TRIPOLI
They are absolutely exhausted.It has gone very quiet in the scouts
chalets of Az
where our convoy is spending the night. Only a handful are still
up at this time as a long day awaits them tomorrow in Tripoli and
Libya is offering
the opportunity to catch up on some well deserved sleep.Tomorrow
Tripoli will greet them as the breakers of the siege of Gaza. Libya
has been over decades a staunch ally of the Palestinian people.
The sheer size
of the convoy and the logistics of keeping it going to the border
seems to have been well studied by the Libyan authorities and a
program has been designed to give the Libyan people the chance to
see, meet and savour this historical moment along the way to the
border with Egypt.
the Tripoli Post, the convoy is expected to take the span of four
days to cross Libyan territories and drive over 1,900 kms, in order
to reach Imsa'id's border post with Egypt.
welcome preparations of the convoy is the Gaddafi International
Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF) which said it is to join
the Viva Palestina with its own convoy of medical aid.
GICDF has for
over a week been contacting Libyan public and private institutions
to contribute to the aid convoy and to take part in the welcoming
of the members of this humanitarian mission.
16.00 (GMT) Saturday 28th
prepares a warm welcome for convoy heroes
After a smooth crossing of the borders into Libya, the convoy was
overwhelmed by the large number of people waiting to greet and welcome
Trade union officials, Palestinian representatives, thousands of
ordinary Libyans showed up and waited from the early hours to see
According to the Libyan press, the Libyan Government has prepared
a program full of activities for the convoy
throughout its journey across the country lasting 5 days.
I am told by Rabah, that people are out on the streets of every
city they pass showing their love, affection and appreciation of
this mammoth task.
As I am writing, the convoy was just arriving in the city of Az
Zawiyah about 40 km west of Tripoli. I can hear the brass band of
the scouts playing a welcoming tune.
A huge tent has been set up which is a traditional Libyan welcome
for VIP guests. The convoy will have lunch and then settle down
after yet another tiring journey.
20.30 (GMT) Friday
27th February 2009
SHOWS GAZA IS NOT ALONE
whole population of the border town of Ben-Guerdane came out to
welcome and cheer our drivers and passengers as soon as they entered
As I am writing these lines, chants, palestinian flags and slogans
are being displayed around the convoy heros. The police are having
a job on their hands trying to contain the jubilation and excitement
of the crowds and are even thinking of moving the convoy to the
border crossing point of Ras Ajdir about 30km away (18 miles).
in Hotels and food was prepared for the convoy by various Tunisian
organisations who are insisting on the convoy's overnight stay in
their city prior to crossing into Libya tomorrow morning.
Ali tells me that the convoy is crawling through the city.RabahAbdulramuz
confirmed few minutes ago that the Tunisian authorities decided
to move the convoy away from the city to the crossing point of Ras
convoy is now close to the border.It looks like a night in the vans
after the comfy beds of Gabes.
13 .00 (GMT)
Friday 27th February 2009
REST AND LATE START
The convoy set
off mid-morning towards the Libyan border. They are escorted by
the police who are dictating the pace which is slowing them down.
They have just stopped in Medanine for friday prayers. I am told
that they will most likely spend the night at the borders before
entering Libya tomorrow.
23 .30 (GMT)
Thursday 26th February 2009
OFFERS RESPITE TO CONVOY
The mood today
was of relief. After a marathon drive through Algeria and further
south in Tunisia, the convoy has been relaxing today in good standard
hotels in the city of Gabes.
They are enjoying nice food and the facilities of the hotel complex
including swimming pools. Some are sleeping, the others are taking
strolls on the beach to walk off those stiff legs and muscles.
The Tunisians have shown their hospitality by offering free fuel,
servicing and repairs to the vehicles and accomodation.
The alarm clock will go off at 06.00am when the convoy will head
for the border with Libya. It is anticipated that they will cross
into Libya sometimes during the day.
Tripoli is about 430km away(about 270miles), so there is every chance
that they will make it to the Capital tomorrow where the Libyan
people will emulate their brothers in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia
in welcoming the Viva Palestina convoy with open arms and show their
love and appreciation.
09 .00 (GMT) Thursday 26th February 2009
A ROUGH NIGHT IN GAFSA
The first part
of the journey in Tunisia did not go as planned. After receiving
food at the border,there was a huge popular support in the town
of Gafsa which slowed the convoy down. The authorities were taken
by surprise and feared a riot according to some drivers.
By then about
a third had already carried on to the town of GABES (click
map), another 3 hours away,where george and the governor of
the city had booked accomodation for the convoy.
So, the convoy
was split and two thirds stayed the night in their vehicles in Gafsa.
They were unfortunate with the weather as sand storms and rain hit
are feeling very tired. Rabah is suffering from a bout of Tonsillitis
and could have done from a night in the warmth and Anti-Biotics.
like to reassure all the families that it is a gruelling journey
for a good cause and that everyone on board is coping well. He told
me to convey a message of 'Not to worry'.
They are now
close to the city of Gabes where they will rejoin the rest of the
group. The consensus is that they HAVE to rest today before making
a push towards the Libyan border for the sake of their health and
22 .00 (GMT) Wednesday 25th February 2009
evening the convoy crossed into Tunisia to the tears and cheers
of the massive Algerian crowds who waived them off at the border
crossing. The Algerian consul as well as some officials wished them
all the best for the remainder of their long journey.
will not be travelling via Tunis. The next stop for the night will
be in GAFSA (click map) where hotel accommodation
has apparently been arranged. They are driving under police escort
and everyone is doing well, reflecting on crossing Algeria - the
second largest country in Africa.
I have just
received a first-hand account of the massive public support the
convoy received from its crossing the borders to the town of Gafsa
where people have lined the streets and greeted the Viva Palestina
convoy with cheers, flags, water, juice, dates, food...
Even at this
time of the night, the town is buzzing as it receives the heroes
who are a symbol of hope to a just cause.
The next stop
will be the borders with Libya unless the convoy decides to take
a well deserved day off.
11.00 (GMT) Wednesday 25th February 2009
in on the Tunisian border
After spending the night in constantine where the group were split
between hotels,youth hostal and a mosque, the group set off this
morning towards the border town of Tebessa and not Annaba as planned.
This will save some time and mileage because it means crossing into
Tunisia further south.
The convoy is driving in smaller groups and stopping if needed.I
am told that it was all drinks (soft) on the house at Samir's cafe
as well as cakes and oil for the vehicles in the area of Batna.
The convoy were about 100km from Tebessa when I spoke to them,which
means that there is a strong possibility they will cross into Tunisia
later on this afternoon or early evening. George has already crossed
apparently to meet up with the 3 Blackburn drivers already there.
The member who was suffering from exhaustion last night has recovered.
23.00 (GMT) Tuesday 24th February 2009
has been a long drive across the hills of Bouira,Borj Bouareridj
and Setif. The same warm welcome and generosity was shown by the
Palestinian tells me that they stopped for some Algerian Merguez
(Sausages), the man refused to get paid and filled their van with
bottled water and drinks.
reason for the delays also has something to do with fuel stoppages.
Apparently it can take up to 3 hours to fill up if you are at the
back of the convoy.
time they were split into groups.The first group left the rest crawling
and arrived to Constantine more than an hour ahead.It is raining
over there at the moment.
I am writing, I believe that they are now in Ein Samara on the outskirts
of Constantine. When I was there 28 years ago, it was a campus and
student area. My contact from Alchorouk daily, Belgacem Adjadj and
his photographer Alaeddine, told me that the newspaper organised
accomodation at hotels.
convoy may be spending the night in their vans due to a leadership
decision. Unless there are last minute changes. A member of the
convoy is however spending the night in a hotel suffering from extreme
exhaustion. I am told he will be fine in the morning.
drive tomorrow should be much easier with a shorter route and better
roads towards hopefully Annaba. If not they will head for Tebessa
which will mean crossing into Tunisia further south.
Update by Farid Arada
(GMT) Tuesday 24th February 2009
The convoy has stopped for fuel (free on the Algerian government)
in BOUIRA. They are waiting for some vehicles to catch up. Some
have stopped for rest and prayers. (see
pictures here). The convoy will try to get to Constantine in
I have fond memories of this town because that's where I graduated.
Belkacem Adjadj, a reporter from Elchorouk daily who is with the
convoy tells me that they are now 9km from Borj Bouareridj, a small
town near Setif.
He also tells me that arrangements have been made to receive the
convoy in the town of Constantine this evening - where all the facilities
have been prepared to make their stay confortable and enjoyable.
The journey will take a possible 3 to 4 hours. The crossing into
Tunisia will be on Thursday.
Asia Chalabi, also from the same daily newspaper has promised to
email me photographs from yesterday and today's journeys.
Update by Farid Arada
Into Algeria - a historic crossing
After another grueling journey across Morocco today,the convoy reached
the border town of Oujda,10km from the Algerian borders.
After crossing the border which have been exceptionnally open for
them,they will drive through the Algerian small town of Maghnia
10 kms away.
At the exit of this town,are the famous Natural spring baths of
Bouguerira. Our boys and girls could do with a good soaking but
the call of GAZA is a lot more important.
Then they will take the dual carriage way towards Algeria's second
city ORAN bypassing the city of EIN TIMOUCHENT. If there are no
major delays with customs,they may reach Oran by lunch time for
a well deserve break.
It is anticipated thet they will use the MOSTAGANEM route towards
the town of CHLEF which is about a 3 hour drive from Oran.
On route towards Algiers,it all depends how late and how dark it
is going to be before they stop for the night.
I anticipate they will stop either in Chlef,Blida or in the outskirt
of Algiers depending on delays and breakdowns.
The Algerian authorities and civil society will be assisting the
convoys during its long crossing of the country and the people of
Algeria will show once again that Palestine remains in their hearts
Farid Arada Farid
is a supporters of Viva Palestina in Manchester, UK
OPEN ITS BORDERS WITH MOROCCO IN EXCEPTION MOVEW FOR THE PASSAGE
OF THE GAZA CONVOY.
and Algerians, who have always held the Palestinian cause to their
heart, are waiting with great excitement for the arrival of the
Gaza convoy on their soil.
The state of Palestine was 'announced' on their soil in Algiers
in 1988 and Algeria's position towards the Palestinians and their
legitimate rights has always been unwavering.
In fact, in Algeria, it has always been said that Algeria is 'with
Palestine Guilty or not Guilty!'
Alshourouk newspaper reports that the president's special representative
and Minister of State Mr A.Belkhadem, has given instructions as
to the safe passage, comfort and hospitality which should be offered
to the convoy from crossing its frontiers to the Tunisian borders.
Mr A.Mehri, a member of the People's Committee for the Aid to Palestine,
confirmed that other vehicles may join the convoy in Algeria carrying
the basic essentials and medicines to the Palestinian people.
The Algerian/Moroccan border has been closed for a number of years.The
Gaza convoy will pass through, exceptionally after the Algerian
authorities decision, which is in line with its historical position
towards the Palestinian people.
Farid Arada Farid is a supporters of Viva Palestina in Manchester,