Aside from the Gaza Freedom March, another group of internationals are aiming to enter Gaza before the end of the year. Northern Ireland’s Londonberry Sentinel reports:
A group of Londonderry men are set to join thousands of humanitarian activists in Palestine this New Year for a huge protest against the treatment of the people of Gaza by Israel.
Jonathan Crockett, Danny Doyle, Eddie McBride, Derek McChrystal and Eanna O’Donaghaile are on the final leg of an epic trans-European journey as part of a convoy of 150 vehicles carrying 500 people from all over the world to help relieve what they describe as “the harsh siege placed on Gaza by the Israeli government.”
The Londonderry contingent now travel to Egypt via the Arab countries of Syria and Jordan where they will deliver an ambulance full of medical supplies to the people of Gaza.
Their arrival shortly after Christmas will coincide with the Gaza Freedom March – a protest to mark the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians – killed by Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza strip one year ago.
The protest is being backed by many well-known international figures including the Respect MP and one-time Celebrity Big Brother contestant George Galloway who the local men met on thier travels.
Participants in the protest will include Pullitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, leading US legal advocate Michael Ratner.
High profile critics of Israel’s actions in Gaza – Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and Naomi Klein – are all backing the event.
In a letter to the Londonderry Sentinel dispatched upon their departure from Istanbul the local participants stated: “Do we seriously believe that our show of solidarity and the deliverance of medical/educational aid will dramatically change the situation in Gaza? We can only wish for this.
“In reality, the most 150 vehicles carrying 500 people from all corners of the world can do is alleviate the harsh siege placed on Gaza by the Israeli government, demonstrate to Palestinians that people from as far away from Derry and Malaysia actively support them, and finally, clench a strong fist of resistance to the Israelis to remind them that what they have done and continue to do is wholly inacceptable in any one’s books; and that the tide of justice will inevitably catch them.”
They added: “So, now as we pull in the end a long day of travelling, we are all glad to get a rest before heading for the Syrian border tomorrow.
“If all goes well, we will be allowed into the Gaza strip on the 27th December and we will be able to complete what we started in Derry so long ago.
“As we sluggishly drive into the outskirts of the Istanbul after a long day, what lifts me most is not the sight of a new city, but the amazing sight of hundreds of people at 4am on a Thursday morning waving Palestinian flags at us.”
In the New Statesmen Jewish Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein wrote: “Visiting Gaza in July, I found a devastated territory unable to breath or rest until its people are allowed to live normal lives in freedom.
“I was haunted by the comments of Nafez Abu Shaban, the head of the burns unit at al-Shifa Hospital, who told me Israel’s use of white phosphorous ‘was not a war; it was a holocaust.'”
Mr Loewenstein has written for The Washington Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian and Israeli paper Haaretz.