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7 October 2010

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Gaza aid convoy Irish appeal to Irish Government and EU for speedy passage

THE Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has again called on the Irish Government and the European Union (EU) to ensure safe passage for the Viva Palestina convoy and ensure Egypt allows it proceed without hindrance to deliver its much-needed humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The IPSC call comes as the convoy has been waiting since Sunday in the Syrian port of Latakia, in a Palestinian refugee camp for those who were forced from their homes in Haifa and Acre in 1948. They await a ship and clearance from Egyptian authorities to allow the convoy land in Al Arish before proceeding on the short, last leg of the journey through Egypt into Gaza.

Amongst those on the Viva Palestina Convoy are a number of Irish citizens, including Jimmy Nolan and Joe Gilmartin from County Tipperary who are members of ‘Tipp to Gaza’. They are driving an ambulance filled with aid for delivery to the Al Adwa hospital in Gaza. The contents include medical aid and school supplies such as copybooks.  Other Irish citizens taking part in the convoy include human rights activists from Counties Antrim and Tyrone. http://tipp2gaza.com/

This convoy is one of many similar international efforts currently under way to break the illegal blockade and bring much-needed humanitarian aid, including medical supplies to the Gazan people. On September 28th, Israeli military boarded and hijacked the 'Jewish Boat to Gaza’ – carrying Jewish activists from Israel, the United States and Europe – which had also attempted to break the illegal siege. The second Freedom Flotilla, which will include the Irish Ship to Gaza, is to set sail to breach the blockade next month.

IPSC National Chairperson Freda Hughes said:

The Irish Government and EU have a responsibility to ensure safe passage of this convoy and ensure its much-needed humanitarian aid is delivered to the long-suffering people of Gaza unhindered by Egyptian authorities. They have both condemned the siege for the barbaric violation of international law that it represents and must now follow their words with actions to ensure that the blockade is breached by this latest convoy and ultimately to end this illegal and inhumane blockade.

The humanitarian crisis remains as bad as ever with food, water and medical equipment continuing to be prevented from being brought into Gaza in sufficient quantities. This denial of basic essentials and denial of freedom of movement is a massive violation of the human rights of the 1.5 million people who live in what Foreign Affairs Minister Mícheál Martin described as the 'open prison' that is Gaza.

While convoy representatives returning today from high level diplomatic negotiations in Damascus feel the Egyptians have somewhat softened their stance and may be more amenable to allowing the convoy through, it is essential that the Government and the EU take nothing for granted. They need to exert as much pressure as possible to allow safe and speedy passage of the convoy into Egypt and across the border into Gaza.

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