03 January 2011

Asia Caravan Reaches Gaza City

After almost a week of waiting in the port city of Latakia in Syria, the members of the Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan finally set off for their penultimate destination, El Arish in Egypt. Swapan Ganguly of PBKMS is part of the group. This journey was preceded by many “ifs” and “buts” from the Egyptian authorities, who first refused to give visas to 46 Iranians and Jordanians, including 6 Iranian MPs. This reduced the caravan from 160 to 120 persons. At first the caravan members had refused to go without their Iranian and Jordanian comrades but later, at the insistence of those who had been refused visas, they decided to proceed, as the Palestinians were looking forward to their arrival.

A second objection came to the ship’s cargo, where among the aid being carried (two ambulances, medicines, toys etc.), 10 generators were considered “dangerous”, and removed from the cargo.

The ship set sail on the January 1, with only 8 activists on board while the rest went by air. Those on board reported being tailed by 5 Israeli naval vessels.The activists arrived in El Arish on January 2, after each one of them had signed declarations about how their bodies were to be disposed off in case of any mishap. They then spent a tense four hours confined by the Egyptian authorities in El Arish airport, not knowing whether they would be allowed to go to the Rafah crossing, from where they could enter Gaza. After they began protesting at the airport, they were taken to Rafah late at night. The Palestinians received them and they reached the beleaguered city of Gaza at 3 a.m. on the morning of January 3.

The 120 activists are from more than 15 countries, the majority of whom are Indians but also include nationals from Iran, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Kuwait. They will spend another three days in Gaza before returning home.

Related Post: Asia Lifeline To Gaza

No comments:

Post a Comment