USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Viva Palestina Enters Gaza; Gaza Freedom March Heads Home

Posted by uscsjp on January 7, 2010

Gaza Freedom March Goes Home: An Update from A Recent CodePink Email:

Like An Earthquake

“The 1,362 people from the Gaza Freedom March are just returning home, full of stories about a wild week in Cairo, in the Egyptian border towns of Al Arish and Rafah, in Gaza for those who got inside, and in the West Bank and Erez crossing for those who went to Israel. And people like you, all around the world, people, held solidarity actions that focused world attention on the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.

It was a rough week for many–battling Egyptian police on the streets, getting rebuffed by our own embassies, joining the hunger strike, debating the Egyptian offer of allowing only 100 people into Gaza. Through it all, however, we can be proud of our many accomplishments:

By focusing worldwide attention on the siege, we lifted the spirits of the isolated people of Gaza. ‘For us, a population of 1.6 million being imprisoned and starved, the gratitude we express to you, the Gaza freedom marchers, is immense. Thank you all from the depth of our hearts!’ – Mohammed Omer, Gaza

We put the spotlight on the negative role Egypt is playing in maintaining the siege and we put pressure on the highest levels of the Egyptian government. ‘Your presence in Egypt was like an earthquake,’ said Suzanne, an Egyptian student. ‘You did more good politically by protesting in Egypt than you could have ever done in Gaza.’ Check out the hundreds of press hits on the march from dailies around the world!

We forced the Egyptian government to make a concession by letting 100 delegates into Gaza. That delegation took in tens of thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid, allowed Palestinians to see long-lost family members, recorded stories they will disseminate broadly, and put up a stunning mosaic memorial, created by muralist Kathleen Crocetti, in a central location in Gaza City in the name of the international community.
View the photos of the Women’s Contingent in action and the whole Gaza Freedom March and solidarity actions from photographers around the world!

We signed on to a lawsuit against the Egyptian government for building a wall to block off the tunnels that have become the commercial lifeline for the people in Gaza.

We reinvigorated our own determination to keep struggling to lift the siege! A new international network formed that can coordinate future work and, initiated by the South African delegation, the Gaza Freedom March committee and various members drafted the Cairo Declaration that outlines a program for moving forward. View and sign on to the Declaration here.

With gratitude,
Ann, Dana, Desiree, Emily, Farida, Gael, Gayle, Janet, Jodie, Kit, Kitty, Liz, Marina, Medea, Nancy, Paris, Rae, Suzanne, Tighe and Whitney”

–CodePink, 7 January, 2010

See also CodePink’s links to Media Coverage of the Gaza Freedom March

More on the Gaza Freedom March from The Electronic Intifada:

Gaza Freedom March: detained at the US embassy

Medea Benjamin (left) and Kit Kettredge outside the US embassy.

Egyptian police in uniform and plain clothes surround US citizens attempting to visit the US embassy.

On the afternoon of 28 December 2009, I was with several persons who accompanied CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans to the US Embassy in Cairo to present a letter from Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in which he expressed ‘strong support’ for citizens of his state who were traveling to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and requesting they be given ‘every courtesy.’ In fact, we were turned away at the first checkpoint at a side street off Corniche al-Nil leading up to the embassy, and told to come back the next morning.

At 9:45am on 29 December, Evans, myself and two other Gaza Freedom March participants came back to the embassy. We explained that we wished to see Ambassdor Margaret Scobey to discuss why Egypt had prohibited more than 1,300 persons including hundreds of Americans, from going to Gaza to take part in a peaceful march with Palestinian civil society against the siege of Gaza.

We were allowed through the first checkpoint, and told we would have to be sniffed by dogs. But as the dogs finished their task, an Egyptian police officer came running up, and demanded we leave….”

Ali Abunimah writing from Cairo, Live from Palestine, 7 January 2010

Also from The Electronic Intifada:

Gaza Freedom March activists target Egypt’s complicity

Sayed Dhansay in Cairo. (Ali Abunimah)

“…After marching for approximately 20 meters, hundreds of Egyptian riot police rushed toward the crowd and encircled them. In an effort to peacefully hold their ground, marchers sat on the ground. In what was a surprisingly heavy-handed response to foreigners, the police began pulling, beating and kicking protestors to get them out of the road.

While rows of riot police shoved the group from behind, police at the front and sides pushed back, causing panic and hundreds of individuals to fall to the ground. Several women were punched, kicked and dragged out of the road, while many elderly persons were pinned beneath others who had fallen on top of them. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries beyond a few bloody noses and people who had sustained cuts and bruises.

After approximately 15 minutes of this, police managed to corral the entire group into an area just off the road, where the protest continued peacefully for the rest of the day. Although unable to march, the group held a loud and emotional protest in support of those besieged in the Gaza Strip…”

Sayed Dhansay, The Electronic Intifada, 31 December 2009

Democracy Now!: Viva Palestina Aid Convoy Arrives in Gaza, George Galloway Describes “Desperate” Situation

“A humanitarian aid convoy carrying food and medical supplies has arrived in Gaza nearly a month after it embarked from Britain. Members of the Viva Palestina convoy began passing through Egypt’s Rafah border crossing into Gaza on Wednesday. They’re expected to spend the next forty-eight hours distributing the aid supplies.

The convoy was delayed by more than a week following a dispute with the Egyptian government. Hours before the convoy’s entry into Gaza yesterday, an Egyptian soldier was shot dead during a clash with Palestinian protesters who had gathered along the border to protest the delay. At least thirty-five Palestinians were wounded. On Tuesday, Egyptian forces clashed with members of the Viva Palestina convoy, wounding more than fifty.

AMY GOODMAN: Egypt and Israel have been maintaining a strict blockade on Gaza since 2007, allowing only the most basic supplies to get through. Viva Palestina’s arrival in Gaza comes a year after the three-week Israeli assault that killed over 1,300 Palestinians.

British parliamentarian George Galloway led the Viva Palestina convoy. He joins us now on the phone right now from Gaza.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

GEORGE GALLOWAY: Thank you. Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what happened? We hear a number of people in your convoy were beaten up, were hurt, some hospitalized.

GEORGE GALLOWAY: Yes, fifty-five, in fact, were injured, some of them quite severely. Ten of them had to go to hospital. All of them entered Gaza with us, but we have a collection of broken heads and plaster casts and bloodied faces and clothes.

It’s quite a testimony to the role that the government of Egypt is playing in this siege that you have just admirably described. It was entirely unprovoked. It was an attack on unarmed civilian people. And it was very frightening and brutal. And, of course, it was of a piece with the way that the Gaza Freedom Marchers were treated in the center of Cairo in the middle of the tourist season just days before…”

–Democracy Now!, 7 January, 2010

Finally, An Upcoming Event:

Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East

A lecture by Dawn Chatty, Oxford University.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall

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