I understand there are at least nineteen people dead. Guardian article on global protests: World wide protests on Israeli attack on aid flotilla. How and where to protest see this Stop the War Coalition link. Rod Cox – who travelled with the first Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza – gives us insights on what happened here: Rod Cox and Gaza.

Update: Wednesday 2nd. June. The respected organisation “Fairness and Accuracy in reporting” published an important analysis of the often biased ways in which this tragic incident has been reported”. Read it here: Fairness and Accuracy in reporting Israeli Ship Attack.

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I’ve just received some good news from the Hope Fleet Ship support team.

They say: ‘One day is not necessarily like another… 

Yesterday we really thought we were all going to be deported, when the Port Said hotel where we are staying was surrounded by the police and then—nothing else happened. 

It was our fellow activists who came to our relief. When our European friends heard about our problems with the Egyptian authorities they hopped on planes and came to join us in Port Said. So now there are about 150 European activists here.

 With this many people we formed into groups this morning according to country: Italy, France, Great Britain, Holland etc…funny to be recreating Europe in a Port Said hotel.

This afternoon during the briefing we were told that the Egyptian authorities were agreeing to the landing of the Hope Fleet convoy at Alexandria and not, as we had been led to believe, at Port Said. One just might surmise from this that they deliberately kept us away from Alexandria to keep us out of contact with Egyptian activists. That surely must have been the reason for their excuse about “security matters.”

For the moment, we are staying here where the convoy should be arriving from Alexandria, in the hotel, still surrounded by the police. And, in theory, and  if the Egyptian authorities don’t change their minds, the convoy of 12 ambulances and 40 trucks should arrive tomorrow at Port Said, and we will leave for Gaza on Saturday.

And we also have, in principle, the authorization to enter Gaza. We’ll see. This long wait has finally paid off and we will finally be able to deliver the humanitarian aid so desperately needed by the Palestinians of Gaza. It’s not much but at least it will show that ordinary people aren’t forgetting them. 

We also hope that the frontier will be opened for the 9 doctors on a humanitarian mission who are staging a hunger strike in front of the Gaza crossing, where they have been refused entry since May 4.

 We are supposed to stay two or three days in Gaza and then … return to Rafah/Al Arish to take part in the sit-in because the objective is not simply to lift the siege temporarily and leave for home with an easy conscience.

 No, our goal is to open the Gaza frontier permanently to restore freedom and basic human rights to the Palestinians.

 During the briefing we also learned that the Egyptian authorities had decided to open the Rafah frontier two days a month, but that’s not enough!

 Furthermore, just because a frontier is open doesn’t mean that all the Palestinians will be allowed to come and go.

 Last weekend when the Egyptian authorities did open the crossing for two days, thye allowed 1519 Palestinians to leave but refused 569..

 815 Palestinians were allowed to enter Gaza’.

  To participate in the sit-in at the Rafah border, please contact the International Movement to Open the Rafah border:  email address: Intmorb@Googlemail.com

Just got a message from Port Said about the Free Gaza Hope Fleet

An activist said: “For three days now we have been waiting here in Port Said for the boat with its cargo of 12 fully equipped ambulances and 40 trucks loaded with medical supplies and special needs equipment. 

Part of the 120-member delegation has already left, brokenhearted, unable to enter Sinai, let alone Gaza, and others are due to return to Europe in the next few days.

But some have stayed on, among them Senator Fernando Rossi and 12 European Parliament members who joined us yesterday in Port Said. 

The ship is presently in Libya and should be arriving in Port Said at the end of the week—that is, if permitted by the Egyptian authorities, who have been playing a game of nerves with us since our arrival. 

Dr. Arafat Abu Madi, who is in charge of the convoy, wrote yesterday to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, asking him to put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to open all the border crossings immediately, to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction material into the Gaza Strip.

 We really get the feeling we are unwelcome in Egypt. Yes, here in Egypt, when you mention the blockade of Gaza and the terrible predicament of the Palestinians–a situation in which Egypt is playing an active part–you bring the wrath of the authorities down upon you.

 So here we are, all in the same hotel, under surveillance from without and within. For now, we have cut off all contact with our Egyptian friends, for their own protection. 

In any case, by sending us to Port Said, the Egyptian authorities have deliberately separated us from the Egyptian activists, who are even now being subjected to harassment and even arrest. 

In the last four days, 56 activists have been arrested in Egypt for having participated in or having announced their intention to participate in the “Day of Anger”—organized demonstrations to protest the founding of the state of Israel”. (International Movement to Open Rafah Border)

I have today requested an urgent statement on this matter from our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.