Sunday, July 12, 2009

Aid convoy to defy Israeli blockade

Aid convoy to defy Israeli blockade

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The first delegation of Viva Palestina USA flew with British MP George Galloway on July 4 to Cairo, where 200 people and a convoy of trucks carrying millions of dollars worth of medical supplies will drive to the border of Gaza. The delegation will demand entry into that territory, whose people have been denied basic necessities due to the Israeli blockade.

Delegates spent the previous day packing materials and had to unpack them at the airport and get them on the plane.

Wearing blue T-shirts with the Palestinian flag on them, the delegates remain identifiable to all who see them, both at JFK airport in New York from where they left and here in Egypt, where the reception has been good.

According to a mainstream newspaper passed out on our EgyptAir flight titled “Israel mulling easing Gaza embargo, report says,” Israel’s Defense Ministry has recommended a partial lifting of the embargo on Gaza as a goodwill gesture toward the Palestinians in order to spur along talks to free an Israeli soldier held by the Hamas government in Gaza.

However, Hamas will not release him without getting in return the many political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, which has increased by more than 20 since the Israeli kidnapping of Cynthia McKinney and the other international delegates and crew on the Spirit of Humanity outside of Israeli waters on June 30.

The article stated that Israel would increase supplies of coffee, tea, soups, meat, fish and canned goods and renew shipments of fuel, clothing, kitchenware and egg-laying chickens into Gaza ahead of Ramadan, which begins in August.

This is to be linked to progress being made to release the Israeli soldier.

Even if one were to believe that this negotiation by Israel is genuine, the products mentioned do not include some of the most essential, like steel and concrete necessary to rebuild the 47,000 homes damaged in the recent war by Israel, according to an Al Jazeera reporter in Gaza on June 27, or half of the hospitals destroyed.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reported on June 29 that those living in Gaza are “trapped in despair.” The report states that the people of Gaza, whose homes were destroyed during Israel’s 23-day blitzkrieg, are still without shelter despite pledges of almost $4.5 billion in aid. This is because Israel refuses to allow cement and other building material into the Gaza Strip.

But the genocide by Israel does not stop at denying building construction. The report exposes that Israel is keeping patients from receiving medical assistance since Israel disrupts medical supplies coming into Gaza.

Everyone in Egypt, which borders Gaza and maintains the Israeli blockade at the border—from people in the streets to taxi drivers and all those following newspapers and TV—is exposed to the fact that the people of Gaza are in intense need of medical care.

It has been reported and verified by medical staff that at least 75 tons of depleted uranium were dropped on this tiny strip of land containing 1.5 million people. The effects of radiation poisoning due to the use of that U.S.-made weapon are now becoming ever more apparent in the population in Gaza.

But Israel’s crimes didn’t stop last January. Just three days before our delegation landed in Cairo, 17-year-old Hyam Ayash was killed in Mughraqa in Gaza on July 2 by a shell fired from an Israeli tank.

Clearly all aid, no matter how small, is sorely needed in Gaza, whether it comes from the Spirit of Humanity or Viva Palestina. What is most needed, however, is to expose the genocidal nature of the Israeli blockade and exert international pressure demanding it cease immediately. This is the goal of many of these missions to Gaza.

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