Updates on the U.S. Gaza Convoy from Werner – Viva Palestina member. July 14, 2009 – 2 pm (updates came to me via the International Movement to Open the Rafah Border. F.L.)

“The final negotiations are still underway at the moment; it looks like we may have an extension of the stay (in Gaza) beyond 24 hours (all those protests in the US have paid off); all of our aid is permitted to enter, but not the vehicles (unless there’s a miraculous breakthrough in the next hour or so) save for a few ambulances.  Many of us were forced to spend precious time (about 5 hours) at the US embassy this morning signing affidavits; this is the text of the affidavit:

“I have read and understand the travel warning issued by US Dept. of State relating to travel to the Gaza Strip; I assume the risk for myself and I understand the Embassy does not recommend my travel to the Gaza Strip; I also understand that the Embassy cannot provide me with consular services in the Gaza Strip”

 Our taxdollars at work!! Viva Palestina!!

Werner’s 4pm Update: “It looks like we will only have 24 hours after all; the Egyptian authorities have been very obstinate.  We will hopefully enter Gaza tomorrow morning (best case scenario) or Thursday morning.  All the supplies will come with us, but not the vehicles (except for two ambulances).  There are three young French men from Paris with us.”

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Perishable supplies stranded at the Rafah Gate.

Perishable supplies at the Rafah Gate. Photo International Movement to Open the Rafah Border June 2009

A sad and familiar story – as a tiny fragment of the ‘quintessential Palestinian experience’ comes to light again. This time U.S. Viva Palestina activists are witnesses:

“It takes place at a border, a checkpoint: in short, at any one of those modern barriers where identities are checked and verified” (Rashid Khalidi in journalist Lala El-Haddad’s blog: Diary of a Palestinian Mother – see my  post of May 12th, 2009).

My questions are: When will President Obama start listening? He once said: “Show me the movement” (meaning he needed some outward sign of what people want…Obama’s quote is referred to in the forthcoming film FoodInc and on BBC Radio in ‘The Food Programme’)

People want peace. So many of us want the borders open, children fed, and people cared for properly. So what about the worldwide Palestine solidarity movement? How much bigger does this vast, international solidarity movement need to get for President Obama to notice it and take action?

How long will the convoy be able to keep going?  How much food and medicine will be wasted? How many more (children, parents, sisters, brothers) will die in this global political and bureaucratic mess before the ‘right forms’ reach the ‘right people’? And what are the vested interests that encourage the British government, the United Nations and the European Union to prop up a repeat performance of this cruel smokescreen-charade?

“The Viva Palestina U.S. convoy has been facing barrier after barrier in recent days despite having initially hoped to cross into the Gaza Strip this morning.  The Egyptian government, collaborator in Israel’s severe blockade for the past 2 years, has set up a course of administrative obstacles which will delay the group’s entry into Gaza” (For more see U.S. Viva Palestina site).