International Aid Convoy Members on Hunger Strike
27th December 2009 Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy to Gaza will begin a hunger strike at 11.25 am today (27 th) 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. The convoy departed 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 11.25 am 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.