Friday, January 8, 2010

Viva Palestina aid convoy reaches Gaza

January 8th 10

In the midst of all our local political controversy and ongoing revelations a jubilant John Hurson rang this Blog yesterday (Thursday) morning to confirm that the ‘Viva Palestina Convoy’ had finally reached Gaza with its urgently needed medical and humanitarian aid for the 1.5 million inhabitants of that besieged region.

John is a Tyrone man and one of many international aid workers and activists, including some from Ireland, who have devoted much of their time in recent years to helping the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip and west Bank.

Somewhat hoarse from the celebrations he reported that ‘517 people last night broke the siege’.

The convoy had been on the road since early December when it left London . It travelled through Europe, Turkey , Syria , Jordan and then back to Syria . Over 40 nations are represented in the convoy.

When the ‘Viva Palestina Convoy’ finally reached the Egyptian-Gaza border around December 24th there was a stand-off with Egyptian authorities refusing some of the vehicles access to Gaza and insisting they would have to go through an Israeli controlled checkpoint. The convoy organisers feared that this would mean some of the aid being blocked entirely and not reaching those who desperately need it.

The stand-off led to violence in which one Egyptian soldier was killed and dozens of convoy activists, including several from Ireland , were injured. However on Thursday evening the convoy was allowed through and was met by a jubilant crowd of Gazans.

159 lorries entered the Gaza strip while 59 other lorries containing generators returned to Syria where their equipment will be distributed to Palestinian refugee camps there and in Lebanon .

The convoy was originally scheduled to enter Gaza on December 27th the first anniversary of last years Israeli assault on the area which led to the deaths of around 1400 Gazan citizens, the majority of whom were civilians.

This Blog remains convinced that the Israeli siege of Gaza is illegal and immoral and should end. The international community should be ashamed of its failure to address this issue and end the siege.

As for John Hurson he is now in Gaza unloading his lorry and delivering the supplies he first loaded six weeks ago.

Among these is a selection of GAA jerseys and other equipment, including balls. John is a keen and enthusiastic Tyrone fan. Last November at an event in the grounds of Parliament Buildings at Stormont to dedicate a tree to mark 125 years of An Cumann Luthchleas Gael (the GAA), John told this Blog of his plan to establish a GAA club in Gaza within the existing Gaza Sporting Club.

According to John, Noam Chomsky, internationally renowned philosopher and political activist has agreed to participate and John has also secured the support of GAA activists, including Peter Canavan, who is co-President of the Gaza GAA Club.

In his call from Gaza he told this Blog of his hope to getting down now to getting the GAA club off the ground. In the meantime yesterday afternoon the geansais – jerseys – and balls were to be put to good work in a local soccer match. John said: “We can at least begin teaching them how to shoot the ball over the post!!”.

This Blog commends and fully supports John’s efforts and those of the hundreds of other activists who take great risks organising and participating in the aid convoys to Gaza .

As part of the necessary effort to rebuild a peace process the siege of Gaza should be lifted.


Paul Doran said...


The Egyptain Government disgraced themelves with their brutal beatings to many on the trip see below

On New Year's Eve -- shortly after the Egyptian government had prevented buses from taking them to Gaza
-- hundreds of people, including scores from the U.S., who were attempting to march in Cairo were kicked, punched and dragged into a holding area by plainclothes Egyptian government forces.

See video:
(filmed by Sam Husseini).

Beginning Dec. 27, 1,300 activists from over 40 countries had been in Cairo attempting to go to Gaza, which has been under siege. Israel has prevented free movement to or from Gaza on its border crossings and has prevented the Gaza port and airport from functioning.

These 1,300 activists -- roughly equal to the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during the Israeli bombing "Cast Lead" of this time last year (about 13 Israelis were also killed) -- have been prevented by the Egyptian government from going to Gaza through the Rafah crossing in the south of Gaza.

Protests in Cairo have been ongoing; one took place Monday in front of the Prosecutor's Office, roughly the equivalent of the Justice Department. This protest included about 40 Egyptians and 40 internationals. On New Year's Day, several hundred people protested in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo; protests there are virtually unheard of -- prohibited by the Egyptian authorities. During protests, people have almost always been penned into areas to prevent their being seen by the general public.

The following individuals still in Cairo can speak to the violence of the Egyptian authorities as well as the Egyptian policy of maintaining the siege of Gaza and the crisis situation in Gaza:

RYAN FAY, in Egypt via U.S. mobile: (412) 418-4444, Fay, a law student, has done legal work on behalf of Palestinians on the West Bank, attempting to prevent the demolition of their homes by Israel. See a photo of Fay shortly after being hit with a police walkie talkie: ryan .

MICK NAPIER, Egyptian mobile: 011-20-192247860,, Napier is chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of hundreds of organizations with delegations in Cairo. He said, "It is clearer than ever that the Egyptian dictatorship is fully complicit with Israel's crippling siege of Gaza."

HEDY EPSTEIN, Egyptian mobile: 011-20-196942393, Epstein is a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and author of "Remembering Is Not Enough."
See the AFP piece "Awaiting Gaza March, Holocaust Survivor Stages Hunger Strike." 3

SAM HUSSEINI, Egyptian mobile: 011-20-161477373, after Jan. 6 in Amman: 011-962-6-5522182, Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini has been blogging and posting videos at: .

MICHAEL BROWN, Egyptian mobile: 011-20-167459014, Brown is former executive director of Partners for Peace. He is accompanied by his 80-year-old father Edwin L. Brown, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the classics department. See video of the elder Mr.
Brown being thrown to the ground and shoved into a penned-in area. He later reported sustaining a bruise on his hand, which he still has, and being pulled on by a cord around his neck. In the video "Demonstrators being forcibly ejected from the street," Edwin Brown is wearing a blue hat: rci (video by Kayvan Farchadi).
Michael Brown was kicked in the ribs by plainclothes Egyptian forces; he and others witnessed Egyptian government forces pulling women by the hair. The Browns were also penned in on Dec. 29 for over four hours while attempting to visit the U.S. embassy.

Timothy Dougherty said...

Thank for the update Gerry, I was concerned over the reports on Palestina Humanitarian Aid Convoy.
There are fears tonight for the safety of several Irish people who entered Gaza yesterday with the Viva Palestina aid convoy. Reports have just reached the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign that Israel launches air strikes into Gaza , last night.The siege of Gaza continues despite the suffering it brings daily to the civilian population.This just one more ongoing attemt by Israel to isolate Gaza and force its people into submission. That is wonderful that Noam Chomsky,would find the time for support of GAA activists in Gaza,sports is one way to rebuild a peace process. Good post Gerry

Micheal said...

I remember the night when Yigal Amir walked up to Yitzack Rabin and shot him in the head to death.

Peace was on the cards until that fateful night.

Then we got Sharon. A militarist who was directly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of civilian refugees in refugee encampments in Lebanon.

I think states like Egypy react with police brutality and state violence generally because they are insecure.

I think they are insecure because they havn't built the foundations of their state on a solid bedrock.

And that poses the question for all of us; What constitutes a solid bedrock on which to build a viable political entity?

It's such a huge and hugely important question that I think only a book could provide an adequate answer.

Your report on the palestinian/ Israeli conflict is very helpful and useful.

"The New Ireland" was a good read with an outline of much progressive political vision and I will read it again before I complete my appraisal of it.

I then moved on to "An Irish Eye", another of your books, which was very informative about events leading up to power sharing.

The accuracy of your political analysis over the last thirty years or so is uncanny. It tells me that politics done properly is an art-form. Or have you got a crystal ball under the bed. (ha ha)

Anyway, eneogh of the Gerry appreciation society fan club. Onwards and Onwards brave leader and comrade. There is much to be done.

Av said...

There should be a competition for who can write the most words about Gaza and not mention Hamas once. Hamas? Who mentioned Hamas? Hamas is NOT a progressive political cause, democratic election victories followed by shooting the opposition does NOT make for a democratic mandate, charters calling for the death of Jews everywhere is not where any Irish political party should be. I welcome humanitarian aid to Gaza, but for Sinn Fein leaders to de-politicise the issue by totally ignoring Hamas is wrong - John Hurson can get away with it, but Gerry as a party leader can't.

Anonymous said...

"This Blog remains convinced that the Israeli siege of Gaza is illegal and immoral and should end. The international community should be ashamed of its failure to address this issue and end the siege."

With respect Gerry - what is your view of the Egyptian siege of Gaza???

Why single out Israel?