Egyptian security forces detain and harass #Gaza Freedom Marchers #GFM

Egyptian security forces detain internationals in el-Arish, break up memorial actions in Cairo

When: Sunday, December 27, noon: the Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 internationals in their hotel in el-Arish and another group of 8 at the bus station. They also broke up a memorial action commemorating the Cast Lead massacre at the Kasr al Nil Bridge

At noon on 27 December, Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 activists in their hotel in el-Arish as they prepared to leave for Gaza, placing them under house arrest. The delegates, all part of the Gaza Freedom March of 1,300 people, were Spanish, French, British, American, and Japanese. The Egyptian security forces eventually yielded, letting most of the marchers leave the hotel, but did not permit them to leave the town. When two younger delegates, a French and Japanese woman, attempted to leave el-Arish, the Egyptian authorities stopped their taxi and unloaded their luggage.

Another group of eight people, including citizens from American, British, Spanish, Japanese and Greece, were detained at the bus station of Al Arish in the afternoon of December 27. As of 3:30 PM, they were still being held.

Simultaneously, Egyptian security police broke up a commemoration of the Israeli invasion of Gaza organized by the Gaza Freedom March at Kasr al Nil Bridge, one of the main bridges connecting Zamalek Island, in the middle of the Nile, to Cairo. As a nonviolent way of commemorating the more than 1300 Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza that began a year ago on December 27, 2008, Gaza Freedom Marchers tied hundreds of strings with notes, poems, art and the names of those killed to the bridge.

“We’re saddened that the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants’ freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead,” said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, one of the March’s organizers.

Benjamin added that the Gaza Freedom March participants are continuing to urge the Egyptian government to allow them to proceed to Gaza. They visited the Arab League asking for support, various foreign embassies and the Presidential Palance to deliver an appeal to President Mubarak. They are calling their supporters around the world to contact Egyptian embassies and urge them to free the marchers and allow them to proceed to Gaza.


Gaza one year on: "Israel resembles a failed state" #GFM

'Israel resembles a failed state'  
By Ali Abunimah
One year has passed since the savage Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, but for the people there time might as well have stood still.

Since Palestinians in Gaza buried their loved ones - more than 1,400 people, almost 400 of them children - there has been little healing and virtually no reconstruction.

According to international aid agencies, only 41 trucks of building supplies have been allowed into Gaza during the year.

Promises of billions made at a donors' conference in Egypt last March attended by luminaries of the so-called "international community" and the Middle East peace process industry are unfulfilled, and the Israeli siege, supported by the US, the European Union, Arab states, and tacitly by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah, continues.

Read the entire article via


Message of Support for Gaza Freedom March from our comrades in Bil'in #GFM #Gaza

Together, We Will Break The Siege of Gaza!
International Call to Action from the Bilin Popular Committee
Egypt has announced that the Rafah border into Gaza will be closed over the coming weeks to the 1,300 international delegates attempting to march in solidarity with the people of occupied Palestine. A historic march will still take place on the anniversary of Israel’s horrific Cast Lead massacre that killed over 1,400 people one year ago. The powerful and diverse collaboration of international support must now choose its response to this horrific injustice. Will you stand waiting permission at the gates of Gaza? We say that you need not wait; if Egypt will not open their border, then the time for action is now. We encourage and support the escalation of non-violent direct action. It is up to you to take the next steps. It is no surprise that Egypt is not allowing the march to continue, so the natural progression towards a victory over this injustice is creative tactical escalation. If you cannot march on the roads then set up camp and sleep in them instead, fast in solidarity with the people who are dying of starvation, refuse to be stopped by their temporary boundaries. We can look to the lessons, the creativity, and the determination of our sister and brothers from historical resistance movements. We are the voice of the voiceless, the arms of those physically held captive, the eyes of those blinded by hate. There are those of us who resist because we have no choice, we resiist to live. And there are those of us who know that no one is free until we are all free, and we use our bodies and the privilege of out relative freedom to resist oppression in all its forms.
There is no time for words without action. Here in Bil’in, we will be demonstrating in solidarity with Gaza, and all those trying to enter. Do not stop at Rafah to break the siege of Gaza.

Thank you for you continued support,

Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
co-founder of Friends of Freedom and Justice - Bilin

Standing in the Sun in Gaza #GFM

Today was a warm sunny day in Amman. It felt like Spring as there were even a few flowers blooming in the garden. Around noon, I spoke with Rami in Gaza, via Skype video. We talked about the latest developments with the Gaza Freedom March - the hope and determination to continue despite the obstacles that Egypt keeps placing. Then feeling a need to talk about something happier, I asked him if it was sunny and beautiful in Gaza today as it was in Amman. "I will show you Gaza," Rami said, and turned his camera toward the window. At the same moment I went out onto the veranda with my laptop. The Gaza Sun shone into my eyes through the video link, while I felt the warmth of the Amman Sun on my face. It is the same Sun, we laughed, but the Sun is under siege in Gaza. We shared hopes that soon we would be standing in the Sun together. The distance from here to there is barely 150 km as the crow flies, but it feels like it might as well be in another solar system. Over the next few days people are flying to Cairo from all over the world and I will too after the weekend. Our determination remains: to stand in the Sun with the Palestinian people in Gaza and to break the darkness of the siege. Goodnight and safe travels to all.

Open Letter to President Mubarak from the Gaza Freedom March #GFM


December 26, 2009

Dear  President Mubarak;

  We, representing 1,362 individuals from 43 countries arriving in Cairo to participate in the Gaza Freedom March, are pleading to the Egyptians and your reputation for hospitality.

  We are peacemakers. We have not come to Egypt to create trouble or cause conflict. On the contrary. We have come because we believe that all people -- including the Palestinians of Gaza -- should have access to the resources they need to live in dignity. We have gathered in Egypt because we believed that you would welcome and support our noble goal and help us reach Gaza through your land.

  As individuals who believe in justice and human rights, we have spent our hard-earned, and sometimes scarce, resources to buy plane tickets, book hotel rooms and secure transportation only to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza living under a crushing Israeli blockade.

  We are doctors, lawyers, students, academics, poets and musicians. We are young and old. We are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and secular. We represent civil society groups in many countries who came together and coordinated this large project with the civil society in Gaza.

  We have raised tens of thousands of dollars for medical aid, school supplies and winter clothing for the children of Gaza. But we realize that in addition to material aid, the Palestinians of Gaza need moral support. We came to offer that support on the difficult anniversary of an invasion that brought them so much suffering.

  The idea of the Gaza Freedom March—a nonviolent march to the Israeli Erez crossing-- emerged during one of our trips to Gaza in May, a trip that was kindly facilitated by the Egyptian government.  Ever since the idea emerged, we have been talking to your government through your embassies overseas and directly with your Foreign Ministries. Your representatives have been kind and supportive. We were asked to furnish information about all the participants—passports, dates of birth, occupations—which we have done in good faith. We have answered every question, met every request. For months we have been working under the assumption that your government would facilitate our passage, as it has done on so many other occasions. We waited and waited for an answer.

  Meanwhile, time was getting short and we had to start organizing. Travel over the Christmas season is not easy in the countries where many of us live.  Tickets have to be purchased weeks, if not months, in advance. This is what all 1,362 individuals did.  They spent their own funds or raised money from their communities to pay their way. Add to this the priceless time, effort and sacrifice by all these people to be away from their homes and loved ones during their festive season.

  In Gaza, civil society groups—students, unions, women, farmers, refugee groups—have been working nonstop for months to organize the march. They have organized workshops, concerts, press conferences, endless meetings—all of this with their own scarce resources. They have been buoyed by the anticipated presence of so many global citizens coming to support their just cause.

   If the Egyptian government decides to prevent the Gaza Freedom March, all this work and cost is lost.

  And that's not all.  It is practically impossible, this late in the game, to stop all these people from travelling to Egypt, even if we wanted to.  Moreover, most have no plans in Egypt other than to arrive at a predetermined meeting point to head together to the Gaza border.  If these plans are cancelled there will be a lot of unjustified suffering for the Palestinians of Gaza and over a thousand internationals who had nothing in mind but noble intentions.

  We plead to you to let the Gaza Freedom March continue so that we can join the Palestinians of Gaza to march together on December 31, 2009.

  We are truly hopeful that we will receive a positive response from you.

  We thank you for your kind assistance and understanding.

  Tighe Barry, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, USA
Olivia Zemor, Euro-Palestine, France
David Torres, ECCP, Belgium
Germano Monti, Forum Palestine, Italy
Ziyaad Lunat, Gaza Freedom March, Europe
Ehab Lotayef, Gaza Freedom March, Canada
Alessandra Mecozzi, Action for Peace-Italy
Ann Wright, Gaza Freedom March coordinator
Kawthar Guediri, Collectif National pour une Paix Juste et Durable entre Palestinens et Israeliens, France
Mark Johnson, Fellowship of Reconciliation
homas Sommer, Focus on The Global South, India

Egyptian opposition to Gaza Freedom March has ‘hardened’ #GFM

Egyptian opposition to Gaza Freedom March has ‘hardened’

by Philip Weiss on December 24, 2009 · 7 comments

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s opposition to the Gaza Freedom March has "hardened" since it announced on December 20 that it would not allow the Code Pink-organized demonstration to enter the Strip from Rafah, on the Egyptian border. So a friend informs, and the San Francisco paper confirms.

The Egyptians have also revoked a permit for a planning meeting of marchers on Sunday Dec. 27th in Cairo. And they have indicated that they will block travel by marchers to El- Arish in the Sinai desert, the stopping off point for the Gaza border. From the facebook page for the Gaza organizers:

I am still determined.

I made it to Amman. Will Viva Palestine make it to Gaza? #GFM

I arrived safely in Amman. Will be spending a couple of days here before continuing on to Cairo to join the Gaza Freedom March. On the plane from Chicago I met two people heading to Amman to join up with Viva Palestine, a separate effort to reach Gaza, headed by British MP George Galloway. According to Aljazeera television this evening, the Viva Palestine convoy of over 80 trucks and hundreds of people is in the Jordanian port of Aqaba. Their plan is to take the ferry across to the Egyptian port of Nuweibeh, in the Sinai and then drive up to the Rafah crossing with Gaza. Egypt is apparently not allowing them to cross. Galloway was on TV saying the Egyptian ferry captain would not let them board. Apparently Egypt is saying that any humanitarian goods bound for Gaza can only be offloaded at the port of El Arish, which is on the Mediterranean side. It's totally impractical for Viva Palestine to reach El Arish by sea. It sounds like more excuses. I think the media coverage adds additional pressure on Egypt. The more obstacles I hear about, the more determined I feel about reaching Gaza. I think that is the sentiment across the board. Something struck me today. There's 1,400 people (at least) on the Gaza Freedom March - a huge number of people to make this journey from dozens of countries. It may be the largest ever single delegation to Palestine. And that's almost exactly the number of people killed in the Gaza massacre last year. It brought home to me the enormity of the crime.