By Julie Webb-Pullman
Member of the Kiwi Team to Gaza
From Kia Ora Gaza
14 October 2010
A few hours ago the Egyptian Government gave permission for the international aid convoy to enter Egypt, and deliver its humanitarian aid to Gaza, although Viva Palestina founder George Galloway has been told to keep out.
The convoy is comprised of over 400 people from 30 countries, and is carrying more than US$5 million of medical and educational supplies in some 150 vehicles, mainly ambulances. The supplies include desperately-needed chemotherapy drugs for children with cancer.
Convoy leaders say they expect to leave the Syrian port of Latakia in the next 24 to 36 hours, sailing for the Egyptian port of Al-Arish.
The mood is upbeat in Latakia’s former refugee camp which has been home to convoyers for the past 12 days while awaiting Egyptian approval. Groups are gathering to discuss developments, watch the news, celebrate with a game of football, and text their organisations back home.
The convoy will pass through the waters in which Israel’s military attacked the Gaza aid ship Mavi Marmara on 31 May, killing nine Turkish citizens and wounding many more humanitarian volunteers. As we reach this site, convoyers will throw flowers into the sea, before continuing on our way.
Although there is concern about how the Israeli government might respond, especially among the 30 people who were also on the Mavi Marmara, most convoyers are confident their passage will be peaceful.
“I expect that the Israelis will shadow us in a boat to intimidate us, but the military option is off the table, in my opinion,” said Kia Ora Gaza convoyer Pat O’Dea.
Organisers are hopeful there will be no last minute problems, and that the aid will reach Gaza by next week.