Here is a poem, received today. Written by Ehab Lotayef and inspired by the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border:Rafah

On the gates of Gaza
Fists are banging
and voices are getting louder
every day

At the gates of Gaza
the masses are gathering

Activists chanting
displaced people
aimless soldiers

Women insulted
enemies protected
A wailing grandmother
and frail old men

A young boy
weeping
A mother in tears
A paperless teenager

An army losing reason

Destruction
blockade
and no one to the aide
Are the children of Gaza
born to be slaves?

No medicine
No food
Barriers
and shackles

Bang your fists
on the gates of Gaza
and shout so your voice
shatters the blockade

Wipe out the darkness
wake up the sleeping
free the hostages
remove the barriers

The walls must fall

The walls will fall
and behind the walls
we’ll witness the sun
of a brighter day

In Solidarity – International Movement to Open Rafah Border

The International Middle East Media Centre reports:

 “U.S. officials have visited Egypt and the Rafah terminal to discuss “a detailed plan that includes high-tech equipment to uncover tunnels…the U.S. officials said that the congress-supported plan aims at securing the 13.5 border line between Egypt and Gaza. The congress approved allocating 50 million USD to secure the borders between Egypt and Israel”

Today I asked a spokesperson and member of the International Movement to Open the Rafah border IMORB for  a statement on this situation by email. They said:

“Israel and Egypt are maintaining an harsh blockade to the 1,5 millions people in Gaza Strip and the only way for them to get medicine, food, clothes, petrol, and all the basis products is through the tunnels. If US and Egypt close all the tunnels, life in Gaza will be unbearable. Many people will die, particularly the sick people.

As we are heading towards new general elections (presidential and legislative ones) which are expected to come on next January, USA, Israel and the international community want to force Palestinians in Gaza to make the right choice : to vote for the collaborator party and leader. And to insure they will do the right thing, they have to impose an hermetic siege without the help of the Egyptian people and tunnels!

Palestinians will be forced to collaborate with their occupier and to recognize its right to dispossess them. It is not only a shame, it is a crime ! Where is justice ?  Where is the right to freedom ? This is the kind of democracy westerners countries promised to the Palestinians (for the racist zionists : a subhumanity !!)”

According to the news section of the website Almasryonline

“Israel conducted an airstrike using F16 bombers on the Egyptian Gaza border yesterday morning. Egyptians living in Rafah were thrown into a state of fear and mayhem, many of them fleeing their houses in fear of the vibrations resulting from the near-by bombing.

The air raid resulted in the death of four Palestinians and the wounding of 9 others”.

Rafah Border Opens

August 4, 2009

The border at Rafah has been open this week. First reports from the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border are coming in. Access to broadband, bathrooms and proper sanitary facilities is often limited. This report is short – and for a truer picture – I have not edited the copy. The peace camp set up by IMORB and other international Palestine solidarity groups at Rafah has had a presence at the Rafah gate for more than thirty days now (see previous posts). IMORB report (from yesterday – Monday) follows:

* the border opened at about 10am

* the operation was messy, and the condition very exhausting for every body involved, but it was significantly better than last time (27th june).

* more than 2000 wanted to inter (enter?F.L.)Gaza, most went through.

* we were told that approximativly 5000 in Gaza waited to pass to Egypt, most were turned back, while only about 500 passed.

*the border was open for a long time, possibly 12 or more hours, till late hour at night.

* there was a lot of activity at our camp, with members monitoring the days action, and facilitating where possible.

* in the same time the camp itself was full of Palestinians as visitors, for a glass of water, or few minutes resting, some even spent the day with us. (report from IMORB)

(International Movement to Open the Rafah Border) copy follows:

Viva Palestina Convoy update #3 July 12, 2009, 7 pm Cairo

“The Viva Palestina members who spent the night in their buses at the Suez Crossing after they were stopped by Egyptian authorities on July 11 are now making their way to the nearby city of Ismailia and are preparing to resume their travels toward Gaza imminently.

British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who has met up with former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in Cairo, was working with Egyptian and U.S. authorities to expedite the passage of the convoy over the Suez Canal and into Gaza.

 New York City Councilmember Charles Barron, who led the group at the Suez Canal, says,

“Whether these requirements are genuine or not, we will get around these obstacles. We are going to Gaza.”

 Egyptian authorities have held up the convoy on the grounds that it has not acquired the necessary travel permits from U.S. officials in order to cross into Gaza.

 “If the Egyptian authorities want us to jump through yet another hoop, we will, even though their ambassadors in Washington, DC, London, and Tripoli, Libya were already supplied with this information, at their request. The U.S. embassy in Cairo was informed about the mission as was the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.” said Galloway. “So now we expect that there should be no further reasons for the delayed transportation of this urgently needed relief to the people of Gaza. We have hundreds of thousands of dollars of medicine, which are time-sensitive and perishable and which need to reach the children of Gaza.”

Another group of Viva Palestina delegates is in Alexandria to take possession of 47 vehicles that will be used to drive the group’s humanitarian and medical relief supplies through the Rafah border crossing. A third Viva Palestina element is continuing to gather additional aid in Cairo. Tomorrow, Viva Palestina plans to gather all its forces in Ismailia, load all of the collected aid on its vehicles, and make final preparations for the drive through the Sinai.

 The Viva Palestina convoy expects progress on all fronts tomorrow, but is prepared to call for solidarity protests at Egyptian embassies and consulates should that not materialize”.

Copy Ends

The International Movement to Open the Rafah border is sending me constant updates  on their long-standing sit-in at the Rafah Gate and the progress of the U.S. Gaza Convoy.

Activists and their tent at the Rafah Border. International Movement to Ope the Rafah Border. June 2009.

Activists and their tent at the Rafah Border. International Movement to Open the Rafah Border. June 2009.

IMORB says: “We are actually 16 people in our camp with mainly Egyptian activists.Yesterday afternoon, the Egyptian authorities put barbed wire at the door of the bathroom and cut the water, so now, we have no more access to the bathroom.

 Chris says : “Fortunately, I managed yesterday morning to take a shower, after climbing over the bathroom iron gate, so now we will keep dirty. I’m happy to be here again, because this is, may be, the lonely place in the world where you can feel free. We are moving freely, we are challenging the Egyptian authorities, Israel and the worldwide community and we ask them to lift this infamous siege.”

 We are waiting for the ‘Galloway’ convoy which has been stopped by the Egyptian authorities at the Moubarak Peace Bridge checkpoint.

It is a shame to see how Americans civilians are treated by the Egyptian authorities.

At the border, we are seeing daily the American forces convoy who come and enter into the Rafah gate (don’t know why they are coming every day and what they are doing inside) but when it comes to American civilians, they are denied to move freely in Egypt.

It is due to their commitment in helping Gaza people who are suffering from an humanitarian crisis. 

Last week, G8 members called for an end of the Gaza siege but it seems Egypt did hear nothing. We will not talk about the racist Zionist entity because we know all that they never care about other people, particularly Palestinian people, and the whole world accepts it.

U.S. Viva Palestina convoy update

The Egyptian authorities didn’t allow them to cross the Moubarak Peace Bridge and to enter into Sinai. They are safe and back in Cairo…. They will try again on Monday!”

 IMORB is appealing for help for the U.S.Viva Palestina Convoy…and asks concerned citizens to:

 Contact the Egyptian embassy in Washington DC and call for the immediate release of the Viva Palestina convoy. Call 202-966-6342, fax 202-244-4319 and e-mail embassy@egyptembdc.org

Natalie Abou Shakra of ISM Gaza and Jenny Linnell have told me by email of the threats and intimidation they experienced whilst attempting to cross the border at Rafah. See my previous post ‘Natalie’s Testimony at the Gates of Hell’.  The two women have now turned to the British Embassy at Cairo with a letter which raises questions about why they received such treatment, when (as described in the letter) they believe they had permission to cross and passage should have been assured. Their letter has been published here.