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Viva Palestina Convoy Breaks Siege and Engers Gaza to Jubilant CrowdsSalem-News.com
The Viva Palestina convoy of almost 150 vehicles, 370 people from 30 different countries and $5 million of aid has entered Gaza.
(GAZA CITY) - Amidst scenes of jubilation from thousands of Palestinians there to greet the convoy, Kevin Ovenden, the convoy director, expressed his joy at being in Gaza once again.
“We have driven more than 3,000 miles to bring this essential aid and to break this illegal siege of Gaza. We have been joined by supporters from Morocco and Algeria and from the Gulf States and Jordan, to make this the biggest convoy ever to break the siege of Gaza. We are absolutely overjoyed to be here and to bring with us the soil from the graves of those who were massacred on the Mavi Marmara which will be used to plant trees as a memorial to their sacrifice.”
The convoy set out four weeks and five days ago from London. It travelled through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria.
Everywhere the reception was fantastic and the generosity of well-wishers unsurpassed.
Towards the end there was a frustrating delay in Syria whilst negotiations at the highest levels were conducted with the Egyptian authorities. In the end it was all worth it as the Egyptian authorities decided to allow passage of the whole convoy, sadly excluding just 17 members of the convoy including George Galloway.
The convoy will be handed over in its entirety to the relevant bodies tomorrow and the members of the convoy then expect to leave Gaza and return home in the next 48 hours after celebrations and formal thanks are given.
Background on Viva Palestina Convoys
The terrible massacre aboard the Mavi Marmara on 31 May has brought a sea change in international opinion against the inhumane siege on the people of Gaza.
Far from deterring people from seeking to bring that siege to an end, the Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla is spurring on even more people to bring humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and to end the blockade. Viva Palestina has organised three massive land convoys to Gaza in the last 18 months - all of which have delivered their aid - and participated in the latest flotilla. Over the last few weeks we have been discussing with partner organisations how to coordinate relief efforts by land and sea so as to have the maximum impact.
As a result Viva Palestina is launching "Viva Palestina 5 - a global lifeline to Gaza", a gigantic land convoy leaving London on Saturday, 18th September in conjunction with convoys leaving from Casablanca and Doha and timed to coordinate with a larger and even more international flotilla aiming to reach Gaza by sea at the same time as the land convoys reach by land.
Viva Palestina will be leading the Land Convoy, a Global Lifeline To Gaza, working in partnership with the International Committee to Break the Siege on Gaza and organisations from Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Australasia, India, South Africa and more.
Saturday 18 September will certainly be the first clear Saturday after the month of Ramadan. We are aiming, with the two other legs of the land convoy, to take 500 vehicles with aid to Gaza carrying medical equipment, educational supplies and the wherewithal to rebuild a destroyed mosque, a school for orphans and to construct a maternity facility in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. We will be supporting the international flotilla that is scheduled for the same time.
Important institutions are now calling for the end to the siege - the European Union, the United Nations, and major charities such as Oxfam. We are appealing for the widest and strongest participation in this latest effort, which will be all the stronger as it takes place in partnership with others who have a proven track record.
You can support the convoy in many ways, as outlined below, by fundraising, promoting it, or taking part yourself. Spaces for participants by land and sea will be limited and we urge you to sign up quickly and begin fundraising now to ensure you can take part.
We have drawn on the experience of the previous Viva Palestina missions to strengthen the organisational capacity and methods of this next one. So even if you have taken part before and want to do so again, please do carefully read through the information below and follow the registration and fundraising procedures.
Please also register for our e-mail bulletin to keep up to date as further information is sent out.
We would like to thank all those who have supported the previous convoys and flotillas and who responded so magnificently when the last one was so brutally attacked.
Now is the time to answer that atrocity with a flood of humanity towards the suffering people of Gaza.
Viva Palestina is also planning to support a new flotilla of aid ships to Gaza. No date has yet been fixed, but the organisations that brought together the Freedom Flotilla in May plus others are hopeful that it will coincide with the land convoys arriving in October.
A flotilla which will be stronger even than the great achievement in May will require a massive fundraising effort. And, as then, space aboard will necessarily be very limited. We hope to make a significant contribution to this initiative while building up a wide, international coalition of support for the land convoys, which are now underway.
The message from the besieged people of Gaza is loud and clear: Come in massive numbers, in a co-ordinated and organized way, by land and sea to deliver vital aid and to highlight the injustice of the siege.
To that end we are supervising the aid that we are taking to ensure it is of the highest quality and meets the needs the people of Gaza have identified. The Israeli government seems to regard Gaza as a junkyard: supporters of the Palestinian people believe that Gaza deserves no less than what we often take for granted in Western countries, including the movement of goods and people with neighbouring countries that is vital to the reconstruction of the economy.
That's why this global convoy to the Rafah crossing, which the Egyptian government has said is "open", is so vital.
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