yesterday we did a rather amateurish protest and hired two boats to take us out towards the Isreali coast and Eilat to display our banners towards the tourists on the corniche at Eilat. The ISrealis seemed to know about the plan as they started firing heavy ordinance down the red sea from a battleship - 10 huge booms directed down the red sea. We all agree that there are informers in the convoy and everyone takes this as a given - but given that the plan was only hatched a couple of hours before we did it, their communication is far better than ours. Other action included the start of the hunger strike and a group climbing the nearby mountain at 5.30 am to hang a paletinian flag (which you can just see from the town).
We were due to collect at the compound at 7.00 pm for a candle lit vigil to commemorate the 1400 lives taken in the bombing of GAZA a year ago last night. When we got there we found that the local union of muslims had organsed a full blown political meeting with a film of armies massing, children with guns and the whole nine yards. Definite anti semitic chanting. This caused upraor and the British contingent walked out in protest and some of the Turkish group as well. Goerge Galloway refused to be present and has apparently complained to our hosts. We understand that our hosts are part of the oppositon here and represent a very rural, conseravtive constituency who has failed to push forward a pro palestinain agenda at all - and therefore over compensate with the appearance of miltancy. Everyone who has been to GAZA or the West Bank say that the Palestinian organstions are far more sophisticated (including the HAMAS leadership) - we wait to see.
This minor crisis lead to demands for a mass meeting with GEorge and Kevin - the convoy leadership - and they are now far more upbeat about the situation.
We were told that one of the convoy members is a very senior politician from the office of the Turkish Prime Minister. He was in Cairo last night negotiating a legal agreement between the states of Turkey and Egypt. This would allow us into the port of AL Areish (which we now understand was always a fall back position for the convoy). We would have our right to deliver our aid direct to the people of GAZA without intercession by UNWRA, and we would not be asked to seek the permission of the ISreali Government. The Turkish government will, if the agreement is signed, charter a boat to take all our vehicles and us from Syria to Al Aresh. We are told once we are on the move we will drive continously (800 kms back to Syria) and the journey to the gates of RAfah will take 3.5/4 days. We do not know how long we will be able to stay in GAZA at the moment - this also depends on the Egyptians.......
That was last night - today we are told to be abck at the compund where we are hosted (10 minutes walk away from my hotel) at 3 p.m. ready to leave. It's hard to take this completely seriously because we are so often told to do things which don't materialise - however this is the mpost hopeful situation we have been in since this impasse started - keep yer fingers crossed!!!!!!
The media coverage on the arab world TV is quite signifiacnt and we got a double page speard in the Jordan times today - but there has also been some excellent programmes and documentaries on the situation in GAZA one year on - balanced and well put together - stuff you just don't see in the UK - also their coverage of Africa is fantastic -
I have tried and tried to get through to the Guardian and have tried to use old contacts from student days who are now senior Guardian Journalists - to no avail - if you have the time please arrange a letter campaign to the Guardian - disgusted readership stuff - yesterday they carried an editorial calling on Brown to press for the opening of the blockade and for aid to be allowed in - but failed to mention that we are 300 miles way - with millions of pounds of medical equiopment (one of the vans in our group has two electron microscopes on it and a dialysis machine and we in Gloucester have a $3000 EEG machine......... )
So hopefully we will be off later today - if you don't get another blog tommorrow we are underway ..........
all love to everyone -