CAIRO: Eight Jordanian artists who have been prevented from entering Gaza on a solidarity mission with Palestinians staged a protest at the Rafah Border Crossing Wednesday.
Hisham Al Bustani is a writer, dentist and secretary of the Socialist Ideology Forum in Amman and the coordinator of the initiative, “Jordanian Intellectuals for Gaza which protested at the Rafah crossing. According to Al Bustani, who spoke to Daily News Egypt from Rafah by phone, the Jordanian group had arrived in Al-Arish Monday but had only managed to reach the crossing Wednesday.
As they were not permitted entry into Gaza they decided to hold an artistic protest in front of the crossing which included singing and oud playing.
They were joined by 16 French doctors and nurses and six British nationals who had also been denied entry. The Jordanian contingent included artist Mohammed Nasrallah, who had intended to create works from the ruins in Gaza, and musician Kamal Khalil of the band Baladna, who had planned to perform a concert in Gaza.
The group had coordinated with artists and intellectuals in Gaza as well as Al Aqsa University in order to carry out these activities once they had arrived. We wanted to go in order to make contact with the intellectuals of Gaza, Al Bustani said. We want to highlight that this is a continuous struggle, and not just when the bombs are raining on Gaza, he added. Al Bustani believed that the refusal to allow them entry through the crossing was due to an arrangement that had been struck between the countries of the activists wanting to enter Gaza. He said, The obstacles are the result of collusion. They will not allow us entry unless we receive written permission from our embassy. We spoke to the Jordanian ambassador and he said the Egyptian Foreign Ministry had told them not to issue such papers. The British activists here say they were told something similar. So everyone is passing the blame but it seems they are all in agreement.
Egypt had announced the closure of the Rafah border crossing after the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Jan. 18 which followed a 22-day Israeli offensive on Gaza in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed.
The crossing had been opened during the offensive for humanitarian purposes and activist and doctors were allowed into Gaza through the crossing but Egypt then announced that the crossing would remain closed for everyone except wounded Palestinians who had been treated in Egypt to return to Gaza.