News Release

Will Egypt Prevent Marchers from Entering Gaza?

HEDY EPSTEIN
DANA BALICKI
ANN WRIGHT
MEDEA BENJAMIN
Balicki, Wright and Benjamin are with the group CODEPINK, which is organizing the Gaza Freedom March on Dec. 31. A delegation to Gaza will begin in Cairo on Dec. 27, one year after the start of the “Cast Lead” bombing of Gaza by Israel.

Among the people going on the delegation are: author Alice Walker, musician Roger Waters, Filipino member of parliament Walden Bello, ElectronicIntifada.net founder Ali Abunimah, IPA communications director Sam Husseini and Epstein, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and author of Remembering Is Not Enough. After World War II, she worked at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates.

CODEPINK recently put out a statement: “Citing escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us on Dec. 20 that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,360 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now.

“Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we’ve encountered — and overcome — before. No delegation, large or small, that has entered Gaza over the past 12 months has received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.”

The number for the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C. is (202) 895-5400; the contact person is Omar Youssef.

PHILIP FARAH
Farah, who has family in Gaza and grew up in Jerusalem, is a spokesperson for the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace. They are holding a march and vigil in downtown Washington, D.C. in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March that involves several groups including Jewish Voice for Peace.

He said today: “As people all around the world sing ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem,’ the Palestinians in Bethlehem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian territories continue to be oppressed. Nowhere is that more bitter than in Gaza, where over 1,300 Palestinians were killed during 22 days of bombings. Living conditions in Gaza remain desperate as Israel continues to impose its siege on 1.5 million Palestinians, preventing almost anyone from leaving the strip and making it virtually impossible to rebuild or repair the thousands of homes and businesses that were demolished during the attack.”

Background: See the new report from Amnesty International, which states: “The international community has betrayed the people of Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and recovery, say a group of 16 leading humanitarian and human rights groups in a new report released today (22 December) ahead of the anniversary of the start of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza (27 December-18 January).”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167