Monday, June 22, 2009

Viva Palestina

Drivers from Oxford to Gaza
On Tuesday June 9th Oxford Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised a joint meeting with the local Viva Palestina activists, who had joined the convoy that left London on 14th February to take aid into Gaza. At the meeting, in Oxford Town Hall, 3 of the 5 drivers who went from Oxford with an ambulance described their experiences. It was an inspiring meeting for the 40 people in attendance. The trip across Europe to North Africa was fairly uneventful (apart from a breakdown in Spain), but from thereon in the drivers descriptions were eventful. The Morocco/Algeria border was opened for the first time in 10 years to let them through. In Libya the Government donated an additional 100 juggernaut trucks.(which sadly still haven't been allowed through by the Egyptian authorities) But most exciting was that everywhere they were greeted with crowds lining the roadside. Only in Egypt, as they waited to be allowed through the Rafah crossing, did they get attacked. But when they finally got into Gaza, they were allowed to donate their ambulances wherever they wanted. The Oxford contingent delivered their ambulances, full of medical supplies, to Shifa Hospital. They only stayed 1 night, but were inspired by their discussions, which centred on the Palestinians demanding to be left alone to live their lives free from attack. As they told the drivers, "We just want to live like any other human being". A necessary prerequisite is for the borders to be opened. The drivers are to make their photos in to a slide show, to use when they talk at future meetings. At the meeting there was the announcement of a huge American solidarity convoy, leaving for Gaza in July, and the next convoy from Britain will set off in October. (See the Viva Palestina website: ) Tony Richardson