ICAHD UK patrons, Jenny Tonge and Clare Short accompanied by 100 delegates from 40 countries visited Gaza from 20 t0 25th November 2011, under the auspices of the Council for European Palestine Relations, now based in Brussels. (CEO Dr Arafat Shoukri)
Standing under the newly erected memorial to the Turkish people killed by the Israelis on the Mavi Mamara last year, it was hard to believe that 3 years had passed since we arrived not far along the same jetty, having sailed from Cyprus in the boat called Dignity. We had been greeted that day, by hundreds of small boats that all sailed, motored and rowed out to meet us with loud cheers and flags waving. We did not realise at the time that we would be the last boat to break the siege, sadly just before Operation Cast Lead.
The way in when we visited last year and this year was through the Rafah Crossing from Egypt.
The journey across Sinai is long and arduous and the wait at the Rafah crossing is tedious but, at least this year, the _customs sheda was crowded with Palestinians travelling both ways.
The new government in Egypt, however questionable, has made a difference and Palestinians can now apply for permits in advance to visit Egypt for shopping and medical visits. The tunnels too, between Gaza and Egypt, are not monitored so diligently so materials and provisions are entering in greater quantities.
How then does this affect the brave, patient, people of Gaza?
An old man sitting near us pointed to a donkey cart trundling past and said, _ Look, quick