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In Limbo in Libya: Gaza Road to Hope Convoy Urges Contact with Egyptian EmbassiesTim King Salem-News.com
"The Road to Hope convoy has been sitting on the Libyan/ Egyptian border for over 1 week now. We demand the immediate and safe passage so the Road to Hope convoy can deliver humanitarian cargo to the people of Gaza." - Ken O'Keefe
(TOBRUK / SALEM) - As I consider the plight of our writer and friend Ken O'Keefe and many other humanitarian activists stranded on the Libya/Egypt border, I try to imagine how and why Egypt would become a roadblock in this group's simple quest to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
There are a number of historical reasons that Egypt might seek to help Gaza; and only one reason Egypt would not, and that is Israel.
I've heard the Six Day War referred to as "a splendid conflict" and generally regarded as highly efficient military action. That is true, and it is also true that Hitler's Stormtroopers were extremely efficient, well oiled machines.
What happened during that terrible war in 1967, besides Israel being able to pummel its neighbors in Pearl Harbor style attacks and take over huge sections of Palestinian land from Syria, Egypt and Jordan- is the massive execution of Egyptian Prisoners of War by Israeli Defence Forces. This appears to be forgotten history in Egypt, but it shouldn't be. This nation once stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Palestine, today Egypt is like a cruel step brother for the Jewish state.
In Mass Graves - In 1967 Six-Day War, Egyptian POWs Ordered to Dig Graves, Then Shot by Israeli Army by the University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth's Gabby Bron, an IDF reserve soldier during the Six Day War, we learn of the savage and to many unforgivable murders carried out by Israel's military:
On the third day of that war we saw Egyptian POWs being executed after a "court martial". The explanation given to us was that those killed were Palestinian "Fedayin" fighters from the Gaza Strip who had disguised themselves as soldiers in order to escape from our forces". I witnessed their executions with my own eyes in the morning of June 8, 1967 in the airport area in al-Arish, Sinai. This was where the headquarters of the brigade commanded by General Israel Tal, in which I had served, were located.
Bron says that was just one day, and that by the next day a rumor was circulating that, "hundreds of Egyptian POWs who interfered with the advance of our forces", were liquidated. Apparently many of the older Israeli reserve soldiers objected to this treatment of POW's, but their objections were greeted with deadly threat by an Israeli officer named Colonel Eshel.
"When we didn't show any willingness to obey, Colonel Eshel pulled out his personal revolver and threatened us with it," Bron said.
Bron explains it is the well-authenticated claims made by of Dr. Aryeh Yitzhaki, that the elite unit "Shaked Patrol" of the Israeli army, then commanded by Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who went on to become the Housing minister in Rabin's government, had murdered a number of Palestinians serving in a special battalion of the Egyptian army. These claims implicate Rabin who was the Chief of Staff at that time.
Dr. Aryeh Yitzhaki, a mainstream Israeli military historian, says all told, the IDF killed around a 1000 Egyptian POWs during the Six-Day War.
Ben-Eliezer "Shaked unit" was responsible for one-third of those murders.
And it is Israel that Egypt takes orders from today.
Those orders on this particular day, are to block the progress of the Road to Hope Convoy which is trying to reach Gaza where significant amounts of aid are scheduled to be delivered.
According to Ken O'Keefe, "Egypt has said that they will let us through by sea, the problem with that is the exorbitant expense. What the people of Gaza need is open borders and unhindered delivery of aid and ultimately trade. The R2H Convoy did not budget for an approx. £100,000 ship journey from Libya to Egypt, and why should we when a tourist can travel freely but aid cannot. This extra cost is reducing aid for the people in Gaza."
So what can people do to help?
Kieran Dowling says Irish people should send emails to the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin, their email is email@example.com
Convoy member Ellie Merton says, "Our guys are moving camp to the 'Poet's Club' in city of Tobruk - a better location. Everyone is safe. Discussions with libyan middle-ranking officials still going on. We're pushing for a clear and concise answer from top brass Libyans - will they help or not. After that, we can make all kinds of plans. Positive stuff."
Everyone reading this should contact their nation's embassy connections with Egypt.
James Connolly put together the embassy phone numbers; he hopes others pass these numbers around and get the Gaza border open for the Road to Hope.
CONTACT EMBASSIES TO HELP:
Ken O'Keefe at the Libya border, November 1 2010:
Previous reports on the Road to Hope Convoy: