Happy NOT New Year!
Sara Ibrahim, 31-12-2009
An Egyptian offer to allow 100 out of 1,362 supporters into the Gaza strip was set on Wednesday. Yet, it was rejected by the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March.
After being refused to enter Gaza, or even travel to Al Arich and Rafah on the border, 38 of the marchers tried to get to Al Arish on their own, but 30 were put under house arrest in their hotel and 8 were detained at one of the stations.
Vigils staging at the United Nations, the journalists' syndicate, the U.S embassy and the Kasr Al Nil Bridge over the Nile, were treated with violence.
"Allowing only 100 delegates into Gaza gives the Egyptian government a photo-up and the chance to say we allowed people through", said Bassem Omar, a Canadian protester.
This decision didn't stop the activists left behind in Cairo from continuing their protests.
"Our group will continue working to get all the 1,362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine", said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march's Coordinating Committee in a statement.
The march is scheduled to take place today; they will walk the 41 kilometres from the southern end of Gaza at the Rafah crossing to the northern end at "Israel's" Erez crossing.
Although some totally rejected the Egyptian government offer, some considered it to be a partial victory.
"It shows that mass pressure has an effect", said Medea Benjamin, an American activist and one of the March's organizers.
The Egyptian government defended this action as a right to secure its border, claiming that the increased security at the border is necessary for maintaining its sovereignty and national security.
Meanwhile, last week, Egypt didn't allow an aid convoy led by British MP George Galloway to enter Egypt through the Nuweiba port on the Gulf of Aqaba.
The humanitarian convoy to the Gaza strip has become stuck in Jordan, along with 500 people, 210 vehicles, and hundreds of tons of aid which is desperately needed in Gaza.
Galloway called it a very complex situation, adding: "We don't yet know exactly what tactics we will follow. That would depend on the diplomatic situation, but one thing we are not going to do is run away."
In a letter sent to the Egyptian president, Galloway said that the Egyptian denial is a harassment of Gaza's residents. The letter received the following reply from a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry:" No convoy is going to dictate Egypt's decision on this matter."
Christmas wasn't quite Merry for the protesters of the Gaza Freedom March. Let's see how the New Year's Eve will turn out to be.