More than three years since Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip the siege remains.
The changes sweeping Egypt and the Middle East bring the promise of finally lifting that blockade and of further steps to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people. But promise alone will not end the suffering now, nor address the reasons for it.
That is why Viva Palestina Arabia is organising an aid convoy to again break the siege on Gaza. It is looking to the future. That is why it will be carrying construction equipment to rebuild the schools, clinics, public buildings and homes which have been destroyed both by Israel's attacks and by the effects of the ongoing siege.
Its purpose is also to highlight in each country it passes through the reasons for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the wider suffering of the Palestinian people. Peace talks are stalled, yet illegal Israeli settlement building in the West Bank continues, as does the driving out of non-Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Conditions for millions of Palestinian refugees in the camps in Palestine and neighbouring countries remain appalling. This convoy will be highlighting the rights of those refugees, enshrined in international law and in UN resolutions. They have an inalienable right to return to the homes they were driven out of.
This convoy, which comes after the great siege-breaking efforts of Viva Palestina in Britain and of attempts to break the siege by sea, is therefore scheduled to reach Gaza on 15 May, Nakba Day, on which Palestinians the world over commemorate the catastrophe that forced so many of them, now a majority, into exile.
Last year saw international protests on Nakba Day which brought the fundamental reasons for the humanitarian crisis in Palestine and in the camps to world attention.
With this convoy, VPA will be part of another international effort to focus on these vital questions.
The flag of Palestine has become a leitmotif for humanitarians and those who care about justice the world over. Now, there are attempts to reverse that development, to encourage people in the West, the Middle East and around the world to avert their eyes from Palestine.
This convoy is about the return to Palestine - the right of Palestinians to return and returning our attention to this central issue by contributing to the construction, the rebuilding, of a Palestine for all Palestinians, with Jerusalem recognised as its capital.
You can join us, contribute to aid and vehicles and support this mission.
Dates to Remember
2nd Feb 2012 Registration Opens 7th April 2012 Registration Closes 15th April 2012 compulsory training day (date to be confirmed) 21st April 2012 All vehicles to be at the Storage Unit of VPA. All volunteers to attend for final sign off, paperwork checks, handing out of T-shirts and grouping of teams etc. This date is to be confirmed. 22nd The convoy leaves from London.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Former hunger-striker Hana Shalabi was escorted Sunday through the Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip, a Ma'an reporter said.
She was exiled to Gaza temporarily in a deal with Israel to end her hunger strike. Palestinian officials have condemned Israel for displacing her from her native West Bank.
Relatives were allowed to meet with her for an hour, they said. Earlier, the the Palestinian Authority ministry of prisoners affairs said Shalabi's parents and other relatives would not be allowed to see her.
Shalabi, from Jenin, ended a 43-day hunger strike on Thursday after reaching a deal with Israeli authorities that she will be deported to Gaza for three years before returning home.
Palestinian human rights groups, meanwhile, say they are alarmed by the deal and Israel's refusal to deny them access to Shalabi in the days leading up to her release.
A joint statement from Addameer and PHR-Israel said they fear that the restriction of access of to Shalabi’s physician and lawyers, in addition to the prevention of family visits, were used as coercion. more
The Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association reported that female detainee, Hana’ Ash-Shalabi, is being deported to the Gaza Strip, and that the Red Cross is bringing her family to the Erez terminal to see her shortly before she is sent to Gaza.
Once sent to the besieged coastal region, Ash-Shalabi will not be able to see her family, similar to all West Bank detainees who were released from Israeli prisons under the condition that they be sent to Gaza or exiled out of Palestine.
The Israeli act comes in direct violation to International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention, and all related Human Rights principles and resolution. more