Sunday, 27 December 2009

Anniversary of the Gaza attacks

Today, on the anniversary of the attacks on Gaza beginning with the killing of hundreds in the first few hours, Jo, Rada and Ellie from Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign are still stuck on the beach at Aqaba, Jordan, waiting with the Viva Palestina Convoy for Egypt to allow humanitarian aid through its borders into Gaza.

We need you, our supporters, to write to the UK Foreign Office and to the UK Egyptian Embassy, to lobby them to drop their conditions and allow the Viva Palestina Aid Convoy through to Gaza.

Why must the people of Gaza continually be punished for existing? Why must the humanitarian efforts of a few hundred international peace volunteers be sneered at by Egyptian officials?

In Aqaba today, we have been demonstrating as much as we can. 20 members of the convoy have gone on hunger strike today, with further people joining up in the coming days. We held a jolly demo on two boats, making an attempt to take Palestinian flags and Gaza support banners over the water to wave at Eilat, the deeply disturbing and flashing Israeli holiday resort on the Red Sea (why does Israel need so much "aid" when it has such huge income generation of its own?). There was a demo in town to mark the hunger strike beginning and this morning a group of convoy volunteers climbed a local mountain overlooking Aqaba and flew an enormous Palestinian flag and VP Convoy banners for all to see. This evening we have a rally at our basecamp compound and a candlelit vigil to honour all 1,400 killed in the attacks on Gaza last year.

We remain steadfast and determined to get our aid to the people of Gaza. We will not be stopped. There is no reason at all why the people of Gaza should be denied our voluntary humanitarian assistance. The families of Gaza are waiting for us to arrive: we get text messages from our friends there every day wishing us well and looking forward to our imminent appearance.

Please help us by contacting the Foreign Office today and reading the riot act to them, to get them off their Christmas backsides and into action to persuade Egypt that Egypt must allow humane behaviour towards the people of Palestine and particularly the people of Gaza. Why does Egypt feebly do the bidding of Apartheid Israel? Does Egypt have no backbone of its own, that it is too wimpy to be strong and caring to its fellow man?

We will wait in Aqaba, clogging up the streets with demos and bashing away on the keyboards of every internet cafe in town for hours at a time until we are allowed to take our aid to Gaza.


Wednesday, 23 December 2009

On the Road to Gaza

Hello from Amman in Jordan!

Rada, Jo and I are still alive, our ambulance is almost still on one piece and your aid is totally intact. Rock on!

It is a huge relief to be able to blog for the first time during the convoy. Getting to an internet cafe has been tough work in most of our overnight destinations (which at the beginning of the trip were entirely petrol stations and sports halls but are now hotels and hostels) and those convoy members that do have internet on their laptops are so busy emailing and blogging themselves they understandably have not had much time to offer to those of us without instant access.

Currently I am sitting in an internet cafe down the road from a press conference/demonstration at the Jordanian Union Complex somewhere in Amman. We are tired, but happy to be here. On the road last night we encountered our first real authority difficulties, with the police blocking our path after crossing the border into Jordan. We had a sit-in, with all convoy ambulances blaring every single horn and flashing every light, and eventually the police gave up, probably due to being deafened (chortle chortle).

Our welcome from normal people in the street throughout Turkey, Syria and now Jordan has been phenomenal. Turkey has been the most overwhelmingly exuberant with clutches of supporters standing in the middle of motorway central reservations in the pouring rain and at 2am just to wave and cheer us on. It is overwhelming to have such heartfelt support.

It is a massive blessing to get a morning off today, only our second bit of time off in over two weeks of solid driving at painfully slow speeds, or break neck races after waiting around for hours at a time. We are all quite stressed because we never know what is happening each day from one hour to the next. There is a lot of justifiable criticism about VP convoy organisers from the convoy members, but it has to be said the resourcefulness of the drivers and the team leaders means we have succeeded in all we have needed to do in spite of anything the organisers fail to fix or arrange.

We are now bracing ourselves for Egypt. We need your support for this. Please contact your MP by email or fax, and also send messages direct to the UK Foreign Office, demanding that Egypt allow safe passage for the convoy and facilitate its entry into Gaza. Egypt must let us in.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas over the next few days, and please do tell your friends and families that we are living up to your support so far, but we will do our utmost in the time ahead of us to get through Egypt, get into Gaza and give the Palestinian people your support, money, aid, good wishes, solidarity and love. Watch us on Press TV (Sky Channel 515) to keep up to date on our progress from now on....

Hugs all round and "Viva, Viva Palestina!!"