Our Campaign aims

A campaign to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice.
We support the call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions of Israel and Israeli goods.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Years Eve-sailing plans disrupted


Today's plan to sail fell through. Now we expect to put vehicles onto 2 boats at Lattakia tomorrow. Still not clear how people will travel though. We will be looking at this view from our hotel over Damascus for another evening- New Years Eve.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Gaza fundraiser in Swansea on January 2nd


On Saturday 2nd January from 11am-1pm, the Oxfam Books and Music Shop in Castle
Street, Swansea will be hosting a Fairtrade Coffee Morning to raise funds for
OXFAM's work in Gaza. Swansea poet Richard Jones will also be there, selling copies
of his new book, "A Fistful Of Poetry", proceeds of which will go to Viva Palestina,
who take aid convoys to Palestine.

Three Swansea women are part of the Viva Palestina convoy currently trying to
deliver medical aid to Gaza. Due to arrive there on December 27th, the convoy has
been delayed by having to enter into continuing negotiations with the Egyptian
authorities to try and gain access to Gaza.

We hope that Saturday's event will be celebrating their successful efforts in
delivering much needed humanitarian aid. If they have still not been allowed into
Gaza, then the event will focus on highlighting the continued injustice of
people being prevented from helping people in need.

One of the women on the convoy, D Murphy, was active in Swansea this time last year,
collecting money for OXFAM's Gaza appeal. Sadly, the situation in Gaza has not
improved much since, mainly due to Israel blocking aid getting into Gaza. OXFAM and
other aid agencies have released a report called "Failing Gaza", condemning Israel
and also the international community for failing to put pressure on Israel to allow
aid through :

"One year after the start of military action in Gaza, the international community
has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action
to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and
recovery.

The Israeli authorities have allowed only 41 truckloads of all construction
materials into Gaza since the end of the offensive in mid-January. The task of
rebuilding and repairing thousands of homes alone will require thousands of
truckloads of building materials. Little of the extensive damage the offensive
caused to homes, civilian infrastructure, public services, farms and businesses has
been repaired because the civilian population, and the UN and aid agencies who help
them, are prohibited from importing materials like cement and glass in all but a
handful of cases."
(More details at www.oxfam.org.uk/oxfaminaction/gaza)

Janet in Turkish newspaper


Janet appears in a Turkish report of the convoy

Peace sign from the Aunties in Syria


Here is a photo from outside hotel in Damascus - We are on ferry tomorrow to Arish - no one knows what we will face in Egypt!

Boat to Gaza


Negotiations with Egypt still ongoing. On our way this afternoon to Tartoush where we will take 3 boats to Al-Arish and see what's what.

Back into Syria again



Back in Damascuss again, the capital and largest city of Syria, after 14hour drive. Tired but in good spirits.Took us 6 hours to cross Jordanian border and just 25 mins to get out.When we stopped for petrol, a group of flag-waving Palestinians ran up, paid and showered us with biscuits/choc bars.

We’re back at the same hotel that we stayed at last time we were in Damascus. What’s nice is hotel people still giving us warm welcome despite 2nd time visiting and mission still not accomplished. We’re all absolutely beat.

George Galloway MP loses his cool on Live TV


Hanging up in anger on Live TV is generally not a good idea but the frustration must be getting to the convoy organiser.Ingrid and D are captured at the beginning of the report

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

AlJazeera TV report


AlJazeera TV host a discussion on the convoy and Israels war on Gaza
For over two years Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants. The blockade includes bans on materials needed to reconstruct the region after the israeli bombing of 2008-9. 80% of the population of Gaza survives on food aid. Inside story asks what motives are behind the restrictions? And what is the human cost?

Hunger Strike over and back on the road again


The photo is the Swansea van filmed by an Iranian TV channel.

The Hunger strike has ended as agreement reached with Egyptian government. Convoy queuing up to leave car compound where we camped out last night. A long drive to Syrian port of Latakia Port in Syria lies ahead.

Swansea media coverage of Convoy

Swansea's South Wales Evening Post ran a good article today on the convoy and hunger strike.


In the USA Los Angeles Times the newspaper asks
Are there hidden motives behind blocking of Gaza aid convoy?
Although Egyptian officials insist that the Viva Palestina matter is no more than a regulatory snag, others are starting to see it as part of a systematic attempt to tighten the Israeli siege on Gaza, an ongoing blockade many Egyptians oppose.

A number of newspapers went on to suggest that both the new wall and blocking the convoy are some sort of attempt by Egypt to punish the Palestinian Hamas movement for not brokering a deal for the release of Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, as well as failing to sign a proposed reconciliation with political rivals Fatah...read more
Los Angeles Times

Monday, 28 December 2009

BBC finally report the convoy


The BBC finally mention the convoy adding it to a report about demonstrations in Cario.
Click here to read report
The BBC refused to broadcast an appeal for aid last year.

You can't be Syriaous!



A decision has been reached. Convoy spokesperson, George Galloway has just announced that we'll be leaving tomorrow for Syria. After a 500mile backtrack it will be a 19 hour ferry ride to Egypt. Entry to Gaza is still unsure.

Organisers of Viva Palestina aid convoy, which is trying to reach the Gaza Strip,have now agreed to go via Syria en route for Egypt.

The agreement came after a Turkish mediator reached a deal with the Egyptian consul in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba.The convoy will now head to the Syrian port of Latakia to sail from there to the Egyptian port of El Arish, and then to Gaza.Viva-Palestina which have been stranded in Aqaba for five days is led by George Galloway, a British MP.

Turkey dispatched an official on Saturday to try convince the Egyptians to allow the convoy to go through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, the most direct route to Gaza after Egypt insisted that the convoy can only enter through El-Arish, on its Mediterranean coast.

Viva Palestina and another convoy, The Gaza Freedom March, were planning to arrive on Sunday to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza that killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

Meanwhile, at least 300 French participants of the Gaza Freedom March spent the night camped out in front of their embassy in Cairo, bringing a major road in the Egyptian capital to a halt as riot police wielding plexiglass shields surrounded them.

One of the Swansea Aunties, Ingrid is keeping a Facebook blog so tune into her photos and diary here.

Life in the compound


Photo shows Ingrid from Swansea with her banner in French just before being interviewed by TV.
The compound where our convoy members gather during the day, here in Aqaba, is full of activity. The Jordan Professional Association, a trade union organisation, allows us to use its compound and facilities, and provides us with three meals a day. Hotel owners are allowing us to stay in their rooms without charge, and also providing meals. The owners of internet cafes are allowing free use of their computers. Meanwhile, Palestinian Jordanians come to the compound every day to donate money, to ask if they can join the convoy, and to offer their homes for us to stay in.

We've been in Aqaba since Thursday evening, when we arrived from Amman. All the aid we're carrying -- specialised medical equipment, wheelchairs, Braille machines, medicines, blankets, powdered baby milk -- is sitting in our vehicles in a port car pound, going nowhere. There's a danger the medicines will start to spoil in vehicles over-heated by the Middle Eastern sun, and negotiations are underway to move them somewhere cooler.

Our mood is determined and strong. We will get this aid into Gaza. It seems like we will be driving back 500 miles to another port.

Israel embarrassed by TV report


Israel accidentally allowed the release of incriminating TV report of an army assault on a Palestinian home in which a mother of five children died. It shows how the media is controlled by the Israeli army as all reports have to be cleared before broadcast. Independent media it appears does not exist

Day 2 of Hunger strike



Negotiations are progressing. Convoy may have to drive back to Syrian port Al-Ladhaqiya near Turkish border then sail down the Med to Al-Arish. Turkey will fund chartered ship from Syria for all

Sunday, 27 December 2009

TV report of Convoy and Hunger Strike


Finally BBC have mentioned the convoy
'An international humanitarian aid convoy of some 200 vehicles is hoping to mark the anniversary by delivering supplies to Gaza…. The convoy is currently in Jordan, awaiting permission to cross the Red Sea and proceed to Egypt...read more

A Spokesman for Egypt's Foreign Ministry said 'there is fabricated media hype about the humanitarian aid convoy Viva Palestina- to the Gaza Strip."
http://www.mfa.gov.eg/MFA_Portal/en-GB/MFA_News/Press_Releases/26122009vive.htm

Day One of Hunger Strike



There was a good hours noisy protest on a roundabout and 15 of us went on Hunger Strike symbolically starting at 11.27am (when Israel bombed Gaza this time last year)

A few of us circumvented police blocks to reach the Egyptian consulate and stayed till 5pm. But we are continuing tomorrow. I am a bit peckish now.

Nearing the end of Day 1 of her Hunger Strike, D Murphy said
'Our actions are in solidarity with the people of the gaza strip, whose suffer due to Israel' and Egypts' cruel and inhumane lockdown of the entire area.

As a mother and grandmother, I think especially of the children, who often go to bed hungry because of the blockade, and hope our actions will put pressure on the Egyptian government to let us pass into Gaza with the desperately needed aid we are carrying'.


The Aunties urge you to contact the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in London to express your outrage that the convoy has been stopped.
Here are the numbers open on Mon-Fri: 0930–1630 . Be firm but polite

Phone:
(020) 7499 3304/2401
(020) 7235 9719 Consulate General
(020) 7493 2649 Defence Office
(020) 7499 3002 Commercial Office
(020) 7409 2236 Press and Information Office
(020) 7491 7720 Cultural Office
(020) 7493 5283 State Tourist Bureau
(020) 7370 6944 Medical Office

The Faces of Hunger Strikers



These are just 2 of the 15 people on Hunger Strike.

Swansea women on Hunger strike


December 27th 2009
Swansea women start Hunger strike for Gaza
Today Swansea women and others began a hunger strike in solidarity with the hungry people of Gaza. We will be joined by more volunteers every day until we are allowed to take our aid into Gaza via Rafah in Egypt., began a hunger strike in protest of Egypt's blockade of a humanitarian aid convoy, which left Swansea earlier this month.

Today is the anniversary of the Israeli bombing of Gaza.The women and other Viva Palestina hunger strikers will consume only liquids until the convoy is allowed entry into Egypt.Before beginning the hunger strike, the convoy marked anniversary of the bombing of Gaza at 1120am with 3minutes of silence. The names of medics and the 1400 people killed were read out.

One of the Hunger strikers from Swansea, D Murphy said
'You have to ask yourself why Egypt would stop a Humaniatian Convoy from taking Baby Monitors, Dialysis Machines and other Medical Aid to a people under siege. We have been calm up to now, but the anger is stirring in our hearts. Egypt is saying we are NOT humanitarian because the organisation is called VIVA PALESTINA, any excuse to appease US and Israeli Government.'

More than 400 people from 17 countries are traveling on the 150 vehicle convoy, which is taking medical, humanitarian and educational aid to Gaza.The convoy and its cargo of aid is now stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into Egypt.

Daily updates, photos and video reports are on
http://www.swanseapalestine.org

Media coverage of hunger strike and convoy


Photo: Carpark where the convoy is being held in Jordan until Egypt opens its borders
News of the convoy blockade and the hunger strike has starting to spread in the Media

Ireland
http://www.derryjournal.com/journal/Derry-men-stranded-on-mercy.5940980.jp
Ireland
http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/1227/egypt.html
Turkey
http://www.worldbulletin.net/news_detail.php?id=51834
The National
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091227/GLOBALBRIEFING/912279994/1009?template=globalbriefing
Gulf News
http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/convoy-stuck-at-border-on-anniversary-of-gaza-war-1.558542
Oman Tribune
http://www.omantribune.com/index.php?page=news&id=61094&heading=Middle%20East


Meanwhile Greg from Swansea had his letter published in The Guardian about Boycott of Israeli goods in UK.
Stop the sale of 'West Bank' produce
Under new labelling rules, customers will be able to distinguish between Israeli settlement products and Palestinian goods from the occupied West Bank (Report, 11 December). It should also be made clear that those settlements are illegal under international law.

But since when has the implementation of law been a matter of individual choice? It was the government, not shoppers, who signed up to the Geneva conventions and security council resolutions that made the settlements illegal. It's up to the government to enforce its own commitment and ban the import and sale of what amount to stolen goods.

Meanwhile, in the absence of proper enforcement, I have been conducting my own "citizen's seizures", removing "West Bank" dates from supermarket shelves. I have offered Tesco and Sainsbury's repayment if they can show the dates are not the produce of illegal settlements.

Some dates I have "sold" in aid of Gaza charities, and some I have sent to UK lawmakers and enforcers with an invitation to consider who stole them. A recent consignment is on its way "home" to Gaza with the Viva Palestina convoy.

More important is for the UK to implement the laws it has signed. The history of Israel/Palestine has been bedevilled by contradictory commitments and selective enforcement. Now the import and sale of settlement products must be stopped.

The Foreign Office may not be calling for a boycott of Israeli goods, but it must honour the human rights clause included in the EU trade agreement with Israel. There should be no favoured entry for Israeli goods into Europe until the rights of Palestinians are respected.

Greg Wilkinson
Swansea


A demonstration was held on 27th December outside the Israeli Embassy,at Kensington High Street London. Jermey Corbyn,Member of the British Parliament gave his support to the convoy

Swansea women go on Hunger strike

The Swansea Aunties and others began a hunger strike in protest of Egypt's blockade of the convoy. Today is the anniversary of the Israeli bombing of Gaza.The women and other Viva Palestina hunger strikers will consume only liquids until the convoy is allowed entry into Egypt.Before beginning the hunger strike, the convoy marked anniversary of the bombing of Gaza at 1120am with 3minutes of silence. The names of medics and the 1400 people killed were read out.

To protest to the Egyptian Embassies here is a list of them all
Dear friends, Here's a list of Egyptian Embassies contact information around the world, please email or phone them: 1. Egyptian Embassy in Athens, Greece Phone: 210 36 18 612  13 Fax: 210 36 03 538 Email: emb.egypt@yahoo.gr, eg.emb_athens@mfa.gov.eg 2. Egyptian Emb...assy in The Hague, Netherlands Phone: +31 (0) 70-354 20 00, +31 (0) 70-354 45 35 Fax: +31 (0) 70-354 33 04 3. Egyptian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden Phone: (46 8) 662 9687 or 662 9603 or 660 3145 Fax: (46 8) 661 2664 4. Egyptian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland Phone: 031 352 80 12 / 13 Fax: 031 352 06 25 5. Egyptian Embassy in London, United Kingdom Phone: 020 7499 3304 Fax: 020 7491 1542 Email: eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg 6. Egyptian Embassy in Washington D.C., United States Phone: (+1) (202) 8955400 Fax: (+1) (202) 2444319 Email: embassy@egyptembdc.org 7. Egyptian Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela Phone: 0058212  9926259 Fax: 0058212  9931555 Email: egyptianembassy@cantv.com.ve 8. Egyptian Embassy in Berlin, Germany Phone: 030 477 54 70 Fax: 030 477 10 49 Web Site: http://www.egyptian-embassy.de/ Email: Embassy@egyptian-embassy.de 9. Egyptian Embassy in Paris, France Phone: (+33) 1 53678830-32 Fax: (+33) 1 47230643 Email: Paris_Con@mfa.gov.eg 10. Egyptian Embassy in Beijing, China Phone: (8610) 6532 1825 Fax: (8610) 6532 5365 Email: eg_emb_bj@yahoo.com 11. Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada Phone: (613)234-4931, (613)234-4935 Fax: (613)234-4398 Email: egyptemb@sympatico.ca 12. Egyptian Embassy in Canberra, Australia Phone: (00612) 6273 4437 - 6273 4438 Fax: (00612) 6273 4279 Email: egyembassy@bigpond.com 13. Egyptian Embassy in Amman, Jordan Phone: 5605175 / 5605176 / 5605202 /5605203 Fax: 5604082 Email: egypt@tedata.net.jo, embegypt@tedata.net.jo In solidarity

An Al Jazeera video news report of the blockade is below.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

PressTV reports about Egypt blockade


What you can do for the convoy

We are calling on ALL friends of humanity to call the Egyptian Embassy and demand that we be allowed to enter Gaza and deliver our aid.

The contact details for the Egyptian Embassy in Dublin are: +353-1-6606718 / +353-1-6606566 / consular@embegyptireland.ie

The contact details for the Egyptian Embassy in London are: 0044-20-7499-3304 / eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg

Please contact them, and express your outrage at their refusal to allow Humanitarian Aid into Gaza, and to let them know that you will never travel to Egypt again, as long as they are the lap dogs for Israel/US.

Please forward this message on to everyone you know, and ask them to do the same. Plus, please leave a message of support for everyone who is stranded here in Aqaba, and for the Palestinians who need our support now, more than ever.

Gaza Aid Convoy members prepare for Hunger Strike


Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a
hunger strike at 11.25am local time tomorrow (27th) in protest at the Egyptian
government's refusal to allow the convoy entry onto its soil.

Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian
governments over the convoy's entry to Egypt. IHH, Turkey's main humanitarian
aid agency, has 63 vehicles travelling on the convoy.

The Syrian government has also provided aid and vehicles, as has the government
of Malaysia. More than 400 people from 17 countries are travelling on the 150
vehicle convoy, which is taking medical, humanitarian and educational aid to
Gaza.

They left London on 6 December and have travelled nearly 3,000 miles across
Europe and the Middle East. However, the convoy and its cargo of aid is now
stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into
Egypt.

British MP, George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said: 'Israel
has kept Gaza under siege for three-and-half years against international law.
It has not allowed aid or rebuilding materials in following its attack on Gaza
earlier this year. Our convoy is determined to break the siege and take in
urgently needed supplies Spirits are high in our camp in Aqaba, and we are
going nowhere except to Gaza.'

It was at 11.25am on December 27 2008, that Israel dropped its first bombs
on the besieged population of Gaza. Three weeks later, following a sustained
air, land and sea assault, more than 1,400 Palestinians had been killed.

The Viva Palestina hunger strikers will consume only liquids until the convoy
is allowed entry into Egypt.

Convoy members will also mark the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel's
Operation Cast Lead by holding a march through Aqaba, jointly with the Jordanians.
In the evening, more than 1,400 candles will be lit for a vigil.

The convoy has been jointly organised by the charity Viva Palestina and the
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the UK's largest organisation campaigning for
solidarity with the Palestinian people.

ends

Notes to Editors:

- For further information and updates please contact Alice Howard alice@vivapalestina.org

- The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about
the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC
seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring
their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental
and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the
UK. Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA, London, WC1N 3XX
Press: 07941 203 894
Web: www.palestinecampaign.org

Joti writes from Jordan


Our arrival into Jordan was marred by an inexplicable delay, which left most of the convoy sitting for six hours at the border. Football gave way to irritation and a chorus of hornblowing, before we were finally allowed to pass, but not until officials had taken the passports of every vehicle’s driver.

Not surprisingly, this made volunteers feel rather nervous, but we did get them back again that evening, amid rumours that this may actually be standard procedure with commercial vehicles in Jordan. Standard or not, the information from various officials was neither consistent nor clear!

Our passage to Amman was further impeded by the apparent determination of police to divert us straight to the port of Aqaba. Knowing that we had a reception and press conferences waiting for us in Amman, however, we eventually resolved the situation via a little bit of (polite) direct action. The convoy pulled out from the inside lane, blocking the entire carriageway, including the hard shoulder, and created a rolling roadblock. Despite the inconvenience we were causing, local traffic caught up in the convoy was extremely supportive! The police, finding themselves sidelined, gave up their attempts at redirection, and moved to the side to wave us on.

Once more, kind hosts among the Palestinian community in Amman provided food and hotel accommodation for us, as well as a full programme of rallies and press conferences. Many of our hosts invited volunteers to their houses, where they enjoyed home-cooked food and convivial company.

By now, the convoy had become a major news story (in some cases the lead story) across the Middle East. The Turkish president even appeared on Syrian TV asking Egypt to facilitate its smooth passage.

Sadly, however, this appeal seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Despite Viva Palestina’s organisers spending months trying to coordinate and cooperate with the Egyptian authorities regarding the convoy’s passage from the Red Sea to Rafah (only half a day’s drive), at the last minute, the Egyptian consulate in Aqaba announced that all aid for Gaza must either be handed over to UNWRA, travel through Israel, or be approved by Israel (!) before coming to Rafah, and that therefore we would not be allowed to land at Nuweiba.

In a meeting with the convoy volunteers on Christmas morning, George Galloway pointed out that if we thought UNWRA was up to the job, we could have simply written them a cheque months ago! He also reiterated that we had no intention of asking Israel for its permission to deliver aid to a sovereign people via a third, also sovereign, country. He begged the Egypian authorities to change their minds, emphasising that on Sunday 27 December, the anniversary of the bombardment of Gaza, the world’s attention should be on Israel and its war crimes, not on Egypt, a fellow Arab nation.

So now, on Christmas Day, nearly 500 volunteers are waiting in Aqaba while negotiations with Egypt continue. At this time of year, it is especially poignant to know that 150-odd vehicles, carrying medicines, paper and pencils, toys, maternity and baby supplies should be sitting less than a day’s journey away from their destination, while Gaza’s children continue to suffer under the criminal blockade.

We know that the people of the Middle East are with us. I have no doubt that that goes for most Egyptian people, too. Meanwhile, the convoy volunteers are determined to complete their mission, and prepared to be patient.

We are asking all friends and supporters of the convoy and of Palestine to please contact the Egyptian consulate in London and the Egyptian government in Cairo asking them politely to reconsider their disastrous decision. Contact your MP and the foreign office and request that they take action. Phone and email the media, asking them to report on the story, which ought to be big news at Christmastime. And forward info to all your friends asking them to do the same.

The Egyptian government, the British government and the British media all need to know that British people care about this issue, and will not stand by and let the convoy be turned away so close to its final destination.
Template letter on Facebook here

Award winning film about Gaza bombing released


"...afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if it's owner fails to control it".

George Orwell defined a way of witnessing Asia that still remains valid. "To shoot an elephant" is an eye witness account from The Gaza Strip. December 27th, 2008, Operation Cast Lead. 21 days shooting elephants. Urgent, insomniac, dirty, shuddering images from the only foreigners who decided and managed to stay embedded inside Gaza strip ambulances, with Palestinian civilians.

George Orwell: “Shooting an elephant” was originally published in New Writing in 1948.
More here

Twitterings from Convoy

Frustration is building in Jordan as the convoy waits.Egypt continues to block entry. One convoy twitter said 'British volunteers not allowed to deliver aid to children of Gaza at Xmas time. Why are Pope and weather top stories? Complain!!

Another said
Medicine going to waste in stranded vehicles in Jordan
Al Jazeera has reported the blockade by Egypt
An aid convoy that has travelled over 3500km to deliver vital medical and food supplies to the Gaza Strip is currently stranded because of Egypt's refusal to grant it easy passage.

The Viva Palestina convoy, made up of almost 250 lorries, remained in the Jordanian port of Aqaba on Saturday, having waited over 48 hours to board ferries for the Egyptian Red Sea port of Nuweiba...read more
Al Jazeera
Other media interest can be read here

I really struggle with EASY!


Boxing Day-It's lovely and mad here at the same time. The people in Aqaba, like everywhere else are beyond praising - hotels have thrown open their doors,everyone is inviting us for meals, etc.

But yesterday I felt really down for the first time - the thought of not even getting as far as Rafah is heart-breaking.

Aqaba has it all, beautiful climate, beach, friendly people - but I didn't come for a holiday, so I'm struggling to adjust. If this had been happening after delivering the Aid and the Vehicles, that could have been perfect - but what am I complaining about, look at those photos!

You know, if we had this stand off in the desert I'd have been happier, what I've learned about myself is that I can do HARD, but I really struggle with EASY!

Last night we Muslims, Christians and 'Humanitarians' went to the Greek Orthodox church and sang carols on the steps with the Father there. Photo shows D and the Father of the Greek Orthodox church of St Nichlas.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Contact your local Egyptian embassy



Egypt is making it very difficult for the Viva Palestina Convoy and Gaza Freedom March to enter Gaza.On Dec 24th the Egyptian Government approved the Viva Palestina Convoy's entry due to its goal of 'humanitarian assistance'. But the same day, as the 200+ vehicle Convoy arrived at the Jordanian port of Aqaba to catch the ferry to Nuweiba in Egypt, officials would not allow them to board the ferry. They are now being held at Aqaba.

Egypt's current position is: "no entry from Nuweiba. Entry can only be through El-Arish," – a 500+ mile detour through the Suez canal. Aqaba to Nuweiba is only 40 miles.

The already impoverished Gaza Strip has been under a complete Israeli siege, with full cooperation of Egypt, ever since the Hamas resistance movement, which does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state, won parliamentary elections in a surprise victory in 2007.Israel's three-week offensive against Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009 which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, including a large number of civilians, deteriorated the already dire situation.

The Israeli assault led to the destruction of schools, mosques, houses as well as UN compounds, inflicting $ 1.6 billion damage on the Gazan economy.

US visitors can email their Embassies directly from the GFM website.
We know this is having an effect because staff at the Washington DC Embassy have already complained about the volume of calls they are having to deal with.

What will happen now?


We have no idea what will happen next, we're guessing that we will be here for at least 2/3 days. We are thinking of ways of putting pressure on Egyptian Gov, so we are all encouraged to contact press back home, friends and supporters.

Ingrid Bousquet said ' Wishing you a Merry Christmas on this sunny day from Aqaba, Jordan. We are now hoping, praying, begging the Egyptian authorities to be allowed to take the ferry across and to enter Gaza. Spent a few nights in nice hotels in Syria and Jordan. now stranded in a land from which you can see Gaza and Israel. I was very pleeased to meet Palestinian refugees who welcomed us to their homes and their hearts.'

Tomorrow is a day of fast for Muslims which most of us will join, and may continue
with..............hunger strike is a potent weapon when you have nothing else.

Christmas Day- we need your help



It's Christmas morning here, but we are not in Egypt as we expected, but in a car park in Aqaba. After lulling (some of us) into believing we could pass, the Egyptain authorities told the Ferry Captain that we would NOT be allowed to disembark on the Eyptian side.

They have given us 3 options:
1. We leave the aid here for the UN to deliver and go home.
2 We MAY go across as foot passengers but no aid can be carried, and even then we won't be allowed to Rafah.
3. We go by boat to Al Arish, but still not to Gaza.

All ludicrous suggestions. We have already travelled over 3,000 miles, WE ARE NOT TURNING BACK!

Now I know it's Christmas Day and all, but as soon as you get a minute PLEASE e-mail, phone, fax the Egyptian Embassy, get in touch with your MP and local media too.
Media and MP contacts here

Contact the Egyptian Consulate in London
No. 2 Lowndes St. London, SW1X 9ET
Tel: 020 7235 9777 – Fax:020 7235 5684
consulate.london@mfa.gov.eg
Also eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg

A video report can be watched here which includes images of 2 of the Swansea Aunties

In the meantime we have a Football Match between the Turkish, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians on one side and the Us and Europeans on the others, this afternoon, and home-made entertainment in the car park in the evening culminating with a ceili!(if I can remember the moves)!!

This must be the strangest Christmas Day ever, but the messages on the blog, on Facebook, and the e-mails have been heart-warming. Keep them coming, we need your support now more than ever.

Christmas Greetings from the Swansea Aunties on the edge of the Red Sea.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Ferry to Egypt


All things being equal. We should be boarding the ferry to Egypt soon after midnight so it be will Christmas on a boat!

A media report from Press TV about the convoys entry into Jordan stated-
The aid shipment, which originally departed from London on December 3 with the aim of breaking the months-long Israeli siege on Gaza, was prevented by Jordanian police from entering Amman, where it was scheduled to hold rallies.

Instead, dozens of the convoy's vehicles formed a rolling road block on the main highway to the city and shut down traffic in a move the organizers called a peaceful protest.

After an hour of grid blocked traffic, the police had to back off and promise to allow the pro-Gazan team into the capital city amid unexpected gestures of support from Jordanian drivers stuck in the traffic jam.
read more

The convoy is scheduled to spend two days in Jordan before moving to the Red Sea port of Aqaba where it hopes to take a ferry into Egypt, hopefully, crossing into Gaza.
If nothing intercedes, Viva Palestina is to cross into Gaza on December 27 to mark the first anniversary of the Israeli offensive against the blockaded enclave, but this will not happen if authorities in Cairo refuse to allow the convoy ashore.

Lifeline 3, the third international convoy headed to Gaza under the name Viva Palestina, comprises 210 trucks laden with basic food items and medical supplies
450 activists, including 30 Americans, 150 Turks and a number of Europeans are accompanying the convoy.

Communication is proving vital




Communication devices are proving to be vital- online it is Twitter, Youtube videos, flikr photos and blogs which are great for spreading the word of the convoy. On the road it is the CB radio keeping us in touch with each other on the convoy. Here are some photos of our CB.

Jordanian desert and reception party




Jordan Government and Police seem to be playing political delaying games- after all drivers had to hand over their passports until we leave Jordan for Egypt.
Fine hospitality in Amman. Hotel accommodation with great food etc. Lots of press coverage and public rallies today.

Real desert with proper sand dunes! Driving south to Akaba. 270km to go. Hot, hot, hot. Army escort. Big guns. Best behaviour. Just stopped on the road to Aqaba for a wonderful desert reception thrown by the tribal heads of Karak.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Demonstration/Vigil in London for Gaza on Dec 27th

SUNDAY 27 DECEMBER 3-5pm outside the Israeli Embassy, London

Exactly one year to the day when Israel started its devastating bombing of Gaza, a vigil
will take place outside the Israeli Embassy in London. The vigil will call for an end to Israel’s siege on Gaza, and for Israeli war criminals to be brought to justice.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Jordan tries delay tactics on convoy

Jordon has slowed the convoy down-Been at Jordanian border most of day waiting for passports.Finally moving after mini revolt of sirens & horns.Entire convoy blockaded on the highway just outside Amman by Jordanian police. Caused a huge jam! Allowed to continue after heated negotiations. Guards confiscated passpots of all drivers. Hope we see them at other end! Police have given up trying to split/divert us for now. Convoy has pushed past them and is heading for Amman. Direct action!

George Galloway speaks at reception and says we'll camp in the Sinai if we have to, if Egypt refuses us entry to Gaza. lots of cheers

Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza received Syrian boost

The international convoy carrying humanitarian aid from London to Gaza has swollen
in size during its journey from Syria into Jordan.More than 400 people from around the world are now traveling on the convoy after volunteers from as far afield as Italy and Malaysia joined up in Damascus.

The amount of aid being carried in approximately 150 vehicles has also grown following donations of medical supplies and equipment received in Syria.

The convoy, organised by the charity Viva Palestina and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, received a huge welcome from Syrians and Syrian’s exiled Palestinian population as it passed through the country.

Flag waving people took to the streets to cheer on the convoy, while a number of official receptions were held, including one at the Syrian border as the convoy arrived from Turkey.

Kevin Ovenden, convoy organiser, said ‘the level of support has been tremendous, and I would like to thank Syria for welcoming us so warmly. Unlike in Britain and the
United States, in Turkey and Syria, the issue of Palestine, the people, the civil society and the Government are as one.’

He added ‘However, the international nature of this convoy demonstrates the depth of popular support for the Palestinian people around the world, and more governments need to recognise this reality, including those in Britain and US.’

The convoy, which includes ambulances, trucks, vans and jeeps, has now entered Jordan and hopes to land in Egypt on Christmas day, following a ferry crossing at Aqaba.

It will attempt to break Israel’s illegal three and a half year blockade of Gaza on
27th December by passing through the Rafah crossing to deliver its cargo of medical, humanitarian and educational aid.

The date marks the first anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s 3 week assault on
Gaza which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead.

Media contact: Alice Howard alice@vivapalestina.org

Note: This is
the third Viva Palestina convoy to attempt to break Israel's siege of Gaza this year. It has been organised by the charity, Viva Palestina, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the UK's largest organisation campaigning for solidarity with the Palestinian people. The last two convoys were successful in delivering aid.
Ends

Interview about travelling with different cultures


The night before the convoy leaves for Jordan, D reflects upon traveling with devout Muslims while being an Atheist herself.

Into Jordan


This morning the convoy began exiting Syria with a crowd waving flags at the border into Jordan. Sunshine, music, excitement. Perfect.
The convoy is ignored by Western Media but front page news in Arab world

Phone interview from Syria

We interviewed the women in the convoy about how the van is coping with the long miles to Gaza

Monday, 21 December 2009

War crimes by Israel in Gaza

The invasion of Gaza involved the killing of civilians waving white flags, the use of human shields and white phosphorus attacks on schools. The only Israeli convicted of a crime has been a soldier for stealing a credit card.
Read full story here

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The road to Damascus


Crossing Syria to cheers and perhaps the long miles, pace and road system is getting to some drivers as one Twitter stated 'The quality of the driving seems to have massively deteriorated as we get closer to Gaza! Pretty hairy here.'

Now on road to Damascus. Locals lining streets to cheer. Silhouettes of hills looming in the darkness, stars bright in clear sky, + the lights of Damascus spread out below. Fantastic. Syria is with us! We are the REAL international community!

Video Interview with D


http://www.thesitch.com/uncategorized/2009/12/the-convoy-thus-far/
D is interviewed in this video.

Into Syria





We have finally crossed the border into Syria.Signs at Syrian border post read:
Masses of Syrian people, leadership and people, welcome the convoy lifeline.

Second sign reads: Long live Palestine, led by independent member of parliament Mr George Galawi.(which we all assume is Galloway)

Leaving Turkey


On the Eastern Turkish border with the Red Crescent

Saturday, 19 December 2009

If you have just joined us..

Welcome and we will give you an introduction about what this blog is about.

Right now a convoy of 200 vehicles from all over the World and UK, including Swansea, are currently driving through Eastern Turkey bound for Gaza,Palestine. The trip is designed to break the siege which Gaza has been under since Israel launched a 23 day bombing campaign on the Palestinian people last December. Undercurrents have been supporting the convoy with media awareness raising and we would really appreciate if you could check out the Swansea to Palestine blog and see the photos, videos and read the daily reports.

On December 27 the convoy will reach the Rafa border in Egypt which is the final and probably the most difficult border to get open, even to let in the Humanitarian aid. If the Egyptians do not open the border, then we are asking everyone to contact their local MP and media to show that the World has not ignored Palestine.

Please read and share the convoy blog and put a link in your own blog, website or pass it on to friends in your emails. Many thanks
http://www.swanseapalestine.org

Video of welcome by Turkish people

Passengers in the van



Picked up 2 passengers on way to Gaziantep
D said 'Another incredible send off from the Turkish people. Tears and hugs, gifts and food. They feel so much for the plight of the Palestinian people. The aunties are bearing up, just a little grubber, spottier and always a bit tired but happy each day is taking us closer to Gaza.'

Cleaning up inTurkey



Helicopter view of convoy in Turkey

Convoy received cheers stretching nonstop for 150km