13 August 2011 | Viva Palestina
Viva Palestina is returning to Gaza with our sixth major international aid mission to bring an end to the illegal siege. Much has changed for the Palestinian people and the wider region in the 11 months since our last convoy. Dictatorship has fallen in Egypt. Palestine has moved up the international agenda. Yet the siege on Gaza remains. Israel recently blocked the second international flotilla. Major aid agencies report that the situation in Gaza is as bad as ever. Civil society organisation and NGOs in Gaza have issued an appeal to the transitional Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing for the free movement of people and goods.
A promised partial opening earlier this year did not go far enough and has largely been reversed. Meanwhile, the condition of Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem continues to deteriorate with ongoing illegal settlement building and the construction of the apartheid/separation wall. Outside Palestine, conditions for three million Palestinian refugees living in camps remain desperate, despite UN and international recognition of their right to return to their homes. The VP convoy will be highlighting the call to open Rafah and also the conditions facing Palestinians in exile and under occupation. It will aim to arrive just after Christmas, on 27 December, the third anniversary of the beginning of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead attack on Gaza.
At this time of year, the world’s Christian communities and many others are particularly focused on Jerusalem and the crisis facing the inhabitants of that ancient city will also be part of our message.
All four of VP’s previous convoy’s have successfully entered Gaza. As well as bringing millions of pounds of desperately needed medical and humanitarian aid, we have been told by people in Gaza and by supporters of the Palestinians in Egypt that they have helped play a role in highlighting the unjust policy of the now ousted Mubarak regime in maintaining the siege. The democratic upsurge in Egypt opens the prospect of ending that siege for good. We will be working in partnership with humanitarian organisations in Egypt to help to bring that about before another year of unnecessary suffering is inflicted on 1.5 million people subsisting in what British prime minister David Cameron has described as the world’s largest open air “prison camp”.
We ask you to join us in this mission, which again will enjoy widespread international support. Experience has shown that successful missions to Gaza require a high level of organisation and planning. The VP management team has built up that experience with hundreds of volunteers who have taken part in our previous convoys and other events. So everything from decisions on what aid to bring to what volunteers should expect of themselves and the mission as a whole is based on those successful convoys and nearly three years of experience.
We believe the time is ripe to finally end this siege with a massive return convoy, with considerable Egyptian participation, and to raise the underlying reasons for the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people as a whole.
We will be opening registration shortly. Please send an email to [email protected] to register your interest, and we will let you know when registration is open.
We will be heading off from London at the end of November to arrive in Gaza on 27 December. International participants will be joining en route. Further details will be coming out over the coming weeks, so make sure you are on our mailing list.
Not everyone can take part in the convoy directly. But tens of thousands have supported our efforts and without them the convoys would not have taken place. You can raise money and send it to us to purchase the medical and humanitarian supplies. You can spread the word about the convoy through your networks. You can volunteer to help with vehicles, fundraising, outreach and other areas. The people of Gaza deserve the highest quality materials and professionalism. What they need above all is the end to this blockade and the restoration of trade and commerce ties that can allow them to rebuild their economy.
With your help, we aim to assist them in achieving that – this Christmas.