How much longer will the Egyptians tolerate it – and him?

May 20, 2009

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict Video

For three days now we have been waiting here in Port Said for the boat with its cargo of 12 fully equipped ambulances and 40 trucks loaded with medical supplies and special needs equipment.

Part of the 120-member delegation has already left, brokenhearted, unable to enter Sinai, let alone Gaza, and others are due to return to Europe in the next few days.

But some have stayed on, among them Senator Fernando Rossi and 12 European Parliament members who joined us yesterday in Port Said.

The ship is presently in Libya and should be arriving in Port Said at the end of the week—that is, if permitted by the Egyptian authorities, who have been playing a game of nerves with us since our arrival

Dr. Arafat Abu Madi, who is in charge of the convoy, wrote yesterday to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, asking him to put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to open all the border crossings immediately, to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction material into the Gaza Strip.

We really get the feeling we are unwelcome in Egypt. Yes, here in Egypt, when you mention the blockade of Gaza and the terrible predicament of the Palestinians–a situation in which Egypt is playing an active part–you bring the wrath of the authorities down upon you.

So here we are, all in the same hotel, under surveillance from without and within. For now, we have cut off all contact with our Egyptian friends, for their own protection.

In any case, by sending us to Port Said, the Egyptian authorities have deliberately separated us from the Egyptian activists, who are even now being subjected to harassment and even arrest.

In the last four days, 56 activists have been arrested in Egypt for having participated in or having announced their intention to participate in the “Day of Anger”—organized demonstrations to protest the founding of the state of Israel.

In the past, many other Egyptians have been arrested for speaking out about their government’s “Egypto-Zionist” policies concerning Gaza. Some are still under arrest, like Magdi Hussein, Secretary-General of the Labor Party, or the poet-blogger Ahmed Doma, who were sentenced, respectively, to 2 years and 1 year in prison for illegally crossing the eastern Egyptian border, after their solidarity visit to the Gaza Strip following the Israeli attack that killed 1434 Palestinians wounded more than 5000, and left more than 100,000 homeless.

We have decided to keep on waiting, even though we have no idea what will happen next.

I hope to be able to tell you soon: “We are in Gaza.”

Traduction française :

Attente à Port Saïd pour la Délégation “Un Espoir pour Gaza”