CAIRO: In Cairo, Al-Arish and Aqaba in Jordan, activists from all over the world continued their attempts to reach the Gaza Strip, whether to transport aid or to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
There was an end to the impasse of the Viva Palestina convoy, stuck in Aqaba since Tuesday. The convoy, led by British Respect MP George Galloway, finally decided to travel back to Syria in order to reach Egypt via Al-Arish, as the Egyptian government had insisted.
Initially, the convoy wanted to dock at Nuweiba, but the government refused. Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit announced that the Rafah border crossing would be opened on Jan. 3 and addressed the convoy, telling them to make their way to Al-Arish to enter Gaza on that date.
“The aid convoy will leave Aqaba for Latakia in Syria before going to Al-Arish, in line with Cairo’s decision, Maysara Malas of Jordan’s trade union federation said, according to AFP.
“We hope that Egypt does not put more obstacles. It’s unfortunate that Israel has interfered in Egypt’s decision, which serves the Zionist entity, Malas added.
However, the case was different for activists congregated in Cairo and Al-Arish who are also attempting to reach Gaza. As it stands, they will not be allowed to go. Amongst the activists were 100 French citizens who have camped out in front of the French Embassy in Cairo since Sunday night after the buses that were supposed to transport them to Rafah failed to arrive.
Hundreds of central security police surrounded the protestors and across the road were 19 central security trucks and a fire truck. The French protestors slept on the pavement in front of the embassy with their luggage and decorated the embassy wall with pro-Gaza slogans.
One of the protestors, Ahmed, told Daily News Egypt “We want to go to Gaza to support the Palestinian people and we came from France to do that. We have nothing against the Egyptian government or people.
“We want to tell France it has a role to play to help the Palestinian people. Palestinians are just like the French, they are people too, he added.
AFP reported that 38 protestors were detained briefly in Al-Arish Sunday as they attempted to make their way to Gaza.
In Cairo, participants in a Nile candle vigil were prevented from holding their procession to remember the victims of the Gaza war. Additionally, security forces prevented protestors from amassing in front of the Lawyers’ Syndicate to commemorate the war that saw 1,400 Palestinians killed, including 200 women and 400 children.
In elated news, 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein began a hunger strike alongside a group of grandmothers in Cairo Monday to protest Egypt’s refusal to allow the activists in Egypt from proceeding to Gaza via Rafah.
A New York native present at the French Embassy, Billy Kelley, who travelled with the CodePink organization, told Daily News Egypt, “Seems we’re not even allowed to gather together to have a civil discussion about what we plan to do, I’m a bit bewildered why, that though the Egyptian government should be neutral, you’d think they’d try to help Gaza.
“What Israel is doing to Gaza is like the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland, there is terrible suffering going on there. The Israelis think they’re walling in other people but they’re creating a prison for themselves, he added.