British Member of Parliament George Galloway left the UK on Sunday, December 6th with a convoy of humanitarian aid and will arrive in the Gaza Strip on December 27, according to the Hamas government’s director of the anti-siege committee, Hamdi Sha’ath.
Galloway’s Lifeline Three convoy is expected to arrive with a consignment of 200 vehicles carrying humanitarian aid on December 27, to mark the first anniversary of Israel’s devastating assault on the Gaza Strip last winter.
Meanwhile, Hamdi Sha’ath announced that 30 European MPs are expected to arrive in Gaza by mid January 2010, travelling from Britain to France, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt before arriving at the Rafah border crossing into the Gaza Strip.
The European MPs will fly to Egypt on January 15 2010 and are expected to be in Gaza the next day, Sha’ath added.
Various appointments have been made for the visiting EU MPs, including meetings with John Ging, director of UNRWA operations in Gaza, Palestinian lawmakers, NGOs and with the families who have lost relatives to Israeli attacks, in addition to visiting hospitals and areas destroyed by Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, Sha’ath said.
Meanwhile, after six months of fundraising, four teams from all across Ireland left on Friday, December 4th, to travel the 4,000 miles to Gaza, to deliver ambulances and humanitarian aid to the stricken region.
In Tyrone, Galway, Dublin, Derry & Cork, volunteers have been working flat out fundraising, and raising awareness of the plight of the people in Gaza.
Their work has produced two ambulances, a mini bus, and a truck filled with over ten tonnes of humanitarian aid.
They travelled to London where they joined up with the Galloway-organised ‘Viva Palestina Convoy’.
Over 100 vehicles set off on Sunday for the December 27th 1st anniversary of the attack on Gaza, which left over 1,400 people dead, and over 5,000 injured.
The situation in Gaza is as bad today as it was the day the bombs stopped falling in January.
The Gaza Strip is still sealed; homes, businesses, hospitals, schools and mosques still lie in rubble; and fundamental supplies are in severe shortage, as Israel continues to restrict the entry of basic goods such as fuel, medical equipment, oxygen, baby formula, paper, books, and construction materials.
Leaving from Derry were four volunteers and an ambulance filled with medical aid.
Another ambulance laden with aid left from Cork, along with four volunteers.
From Galway, a mini bus loaded with medical aid is also undertaking this mammoth journey.
From Tyrone, a truck loaded with medical, building, and sporting supplies joined in this incredible journey.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: ‘Each and every person is giving up their time freely to undertake this incredible journey, and not only will they spend three weeks on the road, but they will be away from their family and friends for Christmas.’
Tyrone man David Callendar, outlined his reasons for travelling when he said: ‘What happened in Gaza in Jan 2009 was a war crime and the ongoing blockade of Gaza by Israel, the United States and Egypt is a crime.
‘The people taking part in these crimes should be brought to justice, and not 20 years from now, when we finally have leaders with integrity and compassion.
‘We have to make changes now.
‘I was at a demonstration in Palestine two years ago and I saw a young boy of about seven or eight holding a sign that said “Where is the world?”
‘This is a very common question in Palestine, and for me, being part of the “Viva Palestina Convoy” makes that little boy’s sign bigger, brighter and louder.
‘The events in Gaza have highlighted the lack of co-ordination and capacity of not only Irish charities and groups, but international ones as well.
‘I believe that our convoy will be the only physical aid going to Gaza from Ireland this year, apart from the individual effort of my fellow Tyrone man, John Hurson.
‘I find this completely shocking, and feel that this issue needs to addressed as a matter of urgency.
‘I would like to thank all the people and children who have supported me and made the trip possible.
‘I would also like to thank Mariead Maguire and all her friends at “Peace People” for all their support.’
Sunday’s will be the second overland convoy of aid organised by ‘Viva Palestina’, the first having successfully delivered 125 vehicles loaded with essential humanitarian aid in March of this year.
Among them, was a truck filled with aid driven by Tyrone man, John Hurson.
The aid he brought has been the only Irish aid to reach Gaza this year.
Not only did John deliver essential aid, but he has since set up the first GAA club in Gaza.