“Welcome to Palestine” group blocked under Mubarak but not under Morsi gov’t, allowed to enter Gaza
French organization hopes to open new chapter in France-Gaza relations and prefers their supplies to Gaza arrive legitimately than through smuggling tunnels.
A hundred French, European and Egyptian activists are hoping to enter the Gaza strip for the first time through Egypt next week, French coordinator Olivia Zemor, of the organization “Welcome to Palestine,” told journalists on Thursday.
The organization was prevented from entering Gaza three years ago in Dec. 2009, when ousted President Hosni Mubarak was at the helm. This time activists say they have received official authorization from the new Egyptian authorities.
“If we manage to enter, it will be the first time that we indeed can enter Gaza. And we hope that the government of (President Mohammed) Morsi, which has submitted to Israeli-American pressures, which receives money and grants from the United States, will not give into pressures and will not only let our delegation of a hundred international persons go through regularly, but also open this border to men, women and children and to goods that they (the Palestinian population) don’t want to see go through the tunnels. They want a zone of free-trade zone between Egypt and Gaza,” Zemor said.
Gaza has been under a land and sea blockade by Egypt and Israel since Hamas seized power there in 2007. Activists’ efforts to access the enclave by sea have been met with Israeli force, most notably in 2010 when nine Turkish nationals were killed during clashes with Israeli naval commandos who were attacked by passengers on the Gaza-bound ship, Mavi Marmara after boarding the ship to enforce Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“Welcome to Palestine” denounces the fact that the population is cut off in the Gaza strip.
The activists, who plan to leave France on Dec. 25, hope to take with them medicines and other medical supplies, books and also sweets and chocolates for the holiday season.
They will first travel to Cairo and then head to the Rafah crossing by bus on Dec. 27.
Getting to Gaza through Egypt should open a new chapter in relations between France and Gaza, Zemor said, and could also lead the way for other organizations to bring aid into the Palestinian territory in the future without going through the tunnels of Rafah.
“This is very important because, yes, we were blocked by Mubarak, that was three years ago, and we were prevented to go to Gaza. This time, Morsi’s government gave us an agreement, a written agreement to go to Gaza. And we hope that is the beginning, as you said, of a new era,” Zemor said.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=6812