Members of the Viva Palestina international aid convoy heading to the blockaded Gaza Strip have made the decision to go on hunger strike in protest at the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow the convoy entry into its territory.
"Volunteers on the convoy are on a hunger strike and will only take fluids until the Egyptian side gives them the nod," said the convoy’s press officer, Alice Howard.
She said the hunger strike began at 11:25 on Sunday, marking the first bombs Israel dropped on the besieged population of Gaza on December 27, 2008.
Israel’s relentless three-week offensive against Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009 left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, more than half of them civilians, according to medical sources. The Israeli assault also led to the destruction of schools, mosques, and houses as well as UN compounds, inflicting $1.6 billion damage on the Gaza economy.
The Viva Palestina aid convoy has been stranded in Aqaba, Jordan since Christmas Eve, when Egyptian authorities prohibited the convoy from docking at the Egyptian port of Nuweiba. Diplomatic negotiations are also taking place between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the convoy’s entry into Egypt.
"Israel has kept Gaza under siege for three and a half years against international law. It has not allowed aid or rebuilding materials in following its attack on Gaza earlier this year. Our convoy is determined to break the siege and take in urgently needed supplies. Spirits are high in our camp in Aqaba, and we are going nowhere except to Gaza," said British MP George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy.
The third international convoy to Gaza departed from London on December 5, 2009. The convoy is made up of volunteers from Britain, Ireland, Belgium, and Malaysia who have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds in their local communities to pay for ambulances, minibuses, vans, and lorries and to fill them with medical and other aid that is desperately needed in Gaza.
The Viva Palestina convoy was organized to direct the world’s attention to the fact that Israeli war criminals committed horrendous crimes in Gaza as well as to the courageous Palestinian resistance.