Monday, March 02, 2009

The Gaza Aid Convoy in Libya

"Thousands of people have contacted me to say that they have marched, cried at the television pictures and feel helpless in the face of the suffering.

That’s why I have launched a major initiative in response to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I will be leading an aid convoy from London to Gaza leaving on 14 February and travelling through France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and through Rafah and into Gaza. It will bring material aid and raise the banner of Palestine in all the countries that we visit.

The convoy will be led by a British fire engine, ambulances, and many trucks full of practical aid given by the various communities in Britain.

It is quite an undertaking, which I anticipate will have a high public profile throughout its journey and on its arrival in Gaza, god willing, some 30 days later." George Galloway

I was aware from media activity that the Gaza Convoy initiated by George Galloway was going to pass through Libya, but since I was not following the news closely I was not aware it had arrived.

So when I was driving in Tripoli yesterday afternoon I noticed a humongous traffic jam on the coastal road. I assumed there must have been some visiting VIP or a road accident. But as I got closer I noticed too many trucks too count and all had a Viva Palestina banner. Only then did I remember about this planned convoy.

I mean many of us had already donated to the various charities and movements collecting money for Gaza even to the Viva Palestina cause . But it was one thing to read about it and another to see the sheer number of trucks and people surrounding them live. Can you imagine more than 5 lanes of cars stopped in the street - litterally parked alongside the trucks !

I was talking at that time to my best friend and mentioned the trucks to him, he suggested I take a photo with the cellphone and I really did want
to join the group and shake some hands and take a few photos but I was driving on the other side of the road separated by concrete - it would be suicidal to stop and run accross the road.

It was definetely a great sight anda
lump rose in my throat...not just for Palestine but also the incredible emotions of my Libyan brethrens. I knew that the visitors would have a grand time in Libya - because being hospitable is what we do best and I'm not counting the trucks filled with goods that Libya has donated to this cause this time again.

Reading the testimonies online was an added bonus:

This is the best welcome we received. What is different this time is that the authorities did not try to stop the people mingling and getting close to us, nothing was orchestrated, it was natural and spontaneous.." [Viva Palestina website].

I'm happy to hear that they will be allowed into Gaza from Egypt! Well done to all.


faceless said...

It must have been a great sight for sure, thanks for the post

Highlander said...

It indeed was wonderful. I hear they are in for a big welcome in Benghazi this evening!

Maya M said...

May I be the "black station" again :-) ?
I didn't know who the hell Galloway is, so I quickly visited Wikipedia - why wasn't I surprised that the guy has a record of anti-Semitism?
But this isn't my most important concern about the affair.
I am not against international help for the most urgent humanitarian needs of Gazans. However, I think it should be not in money (which can too easily be diverted to combat or simply stolen) but in medications, blankets, powdered milk and other items that cannot be easily resold and are of little use to anybody who isn't victim of war. And I think it's very important NOT to send more aid than absolutely needed.
Why? Because I am afraid that generous aid to Gazans after IDF operations, combined with the current economic non-viability of Gaza (as a result of its overpopulation, poor education and virtual absence of family planning), will economically motivate Palestinian leadership to continue attacking Israel (or provoking it, if you like). I mean, if you give people money for having been in a conflict, they may decide that starvation is worse than war, and so the conflict will be dragged ad infinitum.

Highlander said...

Thanks Maya, I agree we should not just give handouts and make people dependent; but if you read again about the project you will know it is not only about money :) The trucks that are travelling accross to Gaza are filled with the essentials you were talking about. The money is an extra in order to help towards rebuilding infrastructure and not to give as handouts to Palestinians.
As for who is or what are Galloways's preferences as you said that is irrelevant :P

With regards to family planning I'm sure the Palestinians can practice it. But have you not read many times that because of the high mortality it's better to have some extra children in case the "IDF" do get their hands on the rest of the kids. At least when they are killed maybe the Palestinian family will be left with 1.2 or the 2.4 kids literally speaking if we think about all the amputees.
Poor education? the Palestinians are some of the best educated people because that's all they have left to hope for .... however sometimes it may be too difficult to study when the schools (regardless of the allegations that they contained Hamas people ) are bombed or the buildings are erased. And if that is not enough - I carry a trauma since 1986 from a few hours of bombing - how much do you think there is of psychological trauma and depression around in Gaza ? Again that's without getting into the facts about who is right and who is wrong and who started the whole Palestinian Israeli conflict!Which in this case is not my most important concern about the affair.

PS Maya it's OK to play the "black station" - I do that as well :P