By Rifat Audeh – Aqaba, Jordan
Just as the world was shocked and outraged one year ago with Israel barbarically dropping bombs on civilians in the Gaza Strip including banned white phosphorous, it is just as appalled now with a new crime being perpetrated against the Gazans once again.
A convoy called Viva Palestina had started traveling from London, England on December 6th, carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinians of Gaza. It arrived in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba on December 24th, and has been stuck there ever since. This is because the Egyptian regime has refused to allow the convoy to enter Egyptian territory through the designated route via Al-Nouwaibe’ port.
The convoy is carrying toys for children, blankets, medicines, foodstuffs and other desperately needed items for the people of Gaza. Over 1400 men, women and children were murdered in Israel’s brutal assault. Hundreds more have died as a result of the inhumane siege imposed on the Strip. And now, with Egypt preventing the convoy from bringing its supplies to Gaza, more people will needlessly die. The Egyptian authorities have set a condition that the convoy must sail into Al-Arish port, thus adding an almost insurmountable burden to the journey of 500 more miles, countless costs and logistic impossibilities in traveling through the Suez Canal. The convoy organizers have naturally rejected this prerequisite and continue with their demands to be allowed quick and safe passage to Al-Nouwaibe’.
They’ve assembled at the Professional Associations Complex in Aqaba, with many camping out there for the duration. Others have been welcomed in the homes of the people of Aqaba, or at hotels. One cannot help but be bewildered at the irony of the situation. Hundreds of foreigners, traveling from as far as Malaysia and the USA are bearing hardship, trying to show their solidarity and humanitarian feelings for the suffering people of Gaza, Palestine, while the so-called Arab brethren of the Egyptian regime continue to participate in the siege, prevent the convoy from entrance, and now have begun building an iron wall underground to prevent any supplies from reaching via tunnels to the impoverished population trapped within the world’s largest open-air prison. To add insult to injury, much of the mainstream media in Europe and North America continue to ignore the plight of the Palestinians while failing to report on the convoy attempting to break the siege.
Some in the convoy have raised the stakes by starting a hunger strike, with more members to join this soon and no signs of backing down. They are quick to stress however, that this is not about them, but rather is concerned with the hundreds who were massacred one year ago and those who continue to die slowly and silently in the Gaza Strip as a result of the atrocious blockade.
The world must end the outrageous and appalling crimes against humanity taking place against the innocent civilian population in Palestine , and hold Israel and its co-conspirators accountable. The convoy must be let through.
– Rifat Audeh is a human rights activist and member of Michigan Media Watch (www.mmwatch.org). He is with the Viva Palestina convoy in Aqaba, Jordan. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.