Solidarity convoy to Gaza turned away at Rafah crossing

May 24, 2009

The quintessential Palestinian/Egyptian/Israeli drama of borders, crossings and checkpoints repeats itself. Some might say: this is not news.

 Even if we’ve heard the story before –  we need to keep listening. We need to  understand that each time this happens – and as long as the borders remain closed, another solidarity delegation will arrive to challenge this violation of human rights. And another. And another:

A 39-person solidarity convoy to Gaza was turned away at the Rafah crossing on Sunday. Egyptian authorities agreed to allow only 16 of the activists to cross the border.

The organizers of the European Hope for Gaza Convoy refused Egypt’s offer to allow only part of the group into Gaza, insisting that all 39 members cross, according to Ahmad Al-Kurd, the minister of social affairs in the Gaza government.

Al-Kurd held a press conference at the main gate of Rafah crossing. He asserted that Egypt first informed the Palestinian side that the whole convoy would be given access to the Strip, then changed its decision, granting entry to only 16 people.

An organizer of the convoy, Amin Abu Rashid said:

 ‘The Egyptians informed the convoy it would not be allowed to pass to the Gaza Strip.’

The group of volunteers and European members of parliament said it was bringing 12 ambulances and some 30 truckloads of medical supplies to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-led land and sea blockade since June 2007. Egypt has also maintained a near complete closure of Gaza, opening the Rafah border only occasionally.

 CodePink’s first delegation with 10 people was rejected at the border on Saturday and is at the border now but still having trouble. Another CodePink delegation with 40 people will try to reach Al Arish this evening before trying to cross the border tomorrow at 9am.

Thirty nine internationals from Gaza ‘Hope Convoy’ and 10 Canadians from CodePink group are stranded as Egypt limits access.

 Date: 24/ 05 / 2009 – Update received 10 pm – (assume this is Gazan time. F.L) –  The 39 members of the delegation are still stranded inside the Egyptian border compound and they are still trying to enter into Gaza. After allowing them entry and stamping their passports, Egyptian authorities took back their passports and denied them permission to cross the border, telling them to go back to Al Arish.

 The whole delegation is still inside the compound and they refuse to leave.”

Information from the ‘International Movement to Open the Rafah border’.

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