Monday 09 March 2009
THE Viva Palestina solidarity convoy finally crossed into Gaza on Monday.
After a tense day in which the planned crossing into Gaza was called off by organisers due to wrangling with Egyptian officials, the convoy began entering the besieged territory via the Rafah crossing at 9am local time.
The Viva Palestina volunteer crews brought the vehicles – which include a British fire engine, 12 ambulances and scores of lorries loaded with medical supplies, food, toys and clothes -from London to the occupied territory via a 9,000-mile route that passed through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
But, with just 30 miles standing between the solidarity activists and the Rafah crossing, the convoy was attacked on Sunday night in the Egyptian town of El Arish by unidentified youths hurling stones, bricks and bottles.
Three voluteers were injured, with two of them treated in hospital for their injuries, and several vehicles were daubed with anti-Hamas graffiti.
Respect MP George Galloway was adamant that the thuggery would not detract from the convoy’s message “of hope and friendship.”
Mr Galloway, who headed the convoy, said: “Our convoy, which set out from London on St Valentine’s Day with 100 vehicles, has grown to almost 250 and the mile-long caravan stretched for more than three miles as more vehicles joined us.
“We’ll leave behind more than £1 million in Gaza, but, more than that, the legacy will be a symbolic one of hope and friendship.”
Mr Galloway emphasised that the “message of the convoy is that the majority of British people abhor the Israeli attacks on the densest packed piece of earth on the planet and the blocking of essential supplies to the Palestinian people in Gaza.”
Meanwhile, an Israeli human rights group charged in a court petition on Monday that Tel Aviv is violating international law by exploiting the West Bank’s mineral resources for its own benefit.
In the petition filed to Israel’s Supreme Court, the Yesh Din group charges that 75 per cent of the rock and gravel removed from 11 West Bank rock quarries is transferred to Israel.