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Κυριακή, 17 Ιουλίου 2011

GAZA HERE WE COME

Latakia, Syria
At midnight last night the Greek ship, Strofades IV, with all 140+ vehicles, their cargo, and 30 convoy members sailed from Latakia on course for Al Arish, Egypt. The rest of us, some 350 participants from 30 countries are scheduled to fly there today. We’ve chartered a plane that will make two flights- one at 5PM and one at 9PM. Flying time is approximately 45 minutes. Then we’ll see what awaits us in Egypt.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Egyptian government seems to do this dance with these convoys. It makes life difficult for participants, but eventually allows entry. On previous convoys the difficulty it creates hasn’t ended with entry into Egyptian territory. Bureaucratic problems have been devised and long delays have ensued. In preparation for that eventuality we’ve loaded each van with sufficient food and water for three days. I’m hoping we won’t need it. From Al Arish to the Rafah gate leading to Gaza is a short drive, approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles). 
Now I know we’re not there yet and that we will probably face additional challenges. But at the risk of counting my chickens before they’re hatched, I want to say that what we’re doing is really pretty incredible. Think about it. We’re a group of just ordinary people who is challenging a blockade established by two sovereign nations. Since the United Nations has declared the blockade illegal, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to uphold international law in defiance of the wishes of two countries. If that’s not audacity I don’t know what is.

What started as about 70 volunteers and 35 vehicles in London over a month ago has morphed into about 350 people- down from a high of almost 400- and over 140 vehicles. We’re transporting millions of dollars worth of aid plus the vehicles, all converted into ambulances, which will be left in Gaza. It warms my heart just to think about it. I can’t imagine, after all we’ve been through, how emotional it will be to actually pass through the gate into Gaza. I’m really looking forward to it!

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