RELIEF SUPPLIES HAVE BROKEN THE BLOCKADE
The gates of Gaza opened - and seven tons of essential supplies have entered the Gaza Strip.
It was the climax of a 2-weeks fight, in the course of which the Israeli peace organizations threatened to go to the Supreme Court, while supporters from all over the world followed the struggle closely.
The action started two months ago, when the well-known Gaza human rights activist, Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, a psychiatrist, met in Tel-Aviv with a small group of peace activists from several organizations. In the course of the meeting it was decided that the Israeli peace movement would organize a relief convoy - both in order to alleviate the suffering and as an act of solidarity and political protest against the inhuman blockade imposed by the Olmert government on the million and a half residents of the Gaza Strip. In the end, more than 30 peace organizations joined the effort.
The Gush Shalom outreach coordinator Beate Zilversmidt asked supporters in Israel and abroad for donations. The reaction was moving: from many countries came donations from organizations and individuals, some for a few dollars, some for hundreds and thousands. With the money, Teddy Katz of Gush Shalom and Yaacov Manor, coordinator of the Coalition Against the Blockade, bought 5 tons of supplies. Israeli families added two more tons of individual family packets.
The supplies were brought to the Gaza strip in a huge convoy of 150 cars, but were stopped there. Only this week, after a tenacious struggle with the army authorities, permission was granted to let the supplies in.
A small delegation of peace activists, members of several organizations, went early this morning (18.2) in biting cold to the Sofa crossing, at the Southern end of the Gaza Strip, after hanging on the supplies giant signs demanding "Gaza: Lift the Blockade!" The supplies were brought to the gate of the crossing. On the other side of the terminal, the Palestinian partners were already waiting. The supplies were delivered to them.
Dr. Sarraj spoke on the phone with Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller and thanked the Israeli activists warmly. He told them that the stores of essential supplies that were brought in during the days when the Rafah border was open, are dwindling rapidly, and the feeling of strangulation is returning. "We in Gaza appreciate the expression of solidarity that we received from the convoy today. We hope that this is the beginning of a joint struggle of the two peoples for peace and freedom for both."
The supplies contained mainly essential foodstuffs and water filters, which are essential in the Strip because the water there is practically undrinkable. The Palestinian Coalition Against the Blockade intends to give priority to hospitals, where the need for clean water is paramount. The filters were allowed in today after many months in which the blockade created a grave lack of these product, producing a serious threat to public health - as in many other products. The peace organizations hope that from now on the filters will be allowed in without limitations.
"The blockade if inhuman, immoral, illegal and a threat to the vital interest of Israel, which is peace," declared Gush Shalom activist and former Member of the Knesset Uri Avnery, who accompanied the convoy. We thank the Israeli and foreign donors who helped us break the blockade.'
Avnery added: "The suffering caused to the inhabitants of Gaza does not help the inhabitants of Sderot in any way. There is only one way of stopping the Qassams: to accept the offer of a full and mutual cease-fire on the Gaza border, hich was made several times by Hamas leaders."
A further relief convoy is already in the planning stage.