The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has received word from the Irish participants on the Viva Palestina aid convoy that they crossed the border at Rafah and arrived in Gaza shortly after 7pm (Irish time). This is exactly one month after the convoy set off on its journey and despite concerted efforts by Egypt to obstruct its progress.
According to Tyrone man John Hurson in a text sent at 7.40pm, "We arrived in Gaza 30 minutes ago to one amazing welcome. The excitement is incredible. It is good to be home again and meet all my friends. Beautiful feeling." John Hurson had also participated in the previous Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza.
Among those interviewed on the video are the Irish participants from Derry. The Derry members of the convoy are J.J. Crockett, Enna O Donghaile, Eddie McBride, Derek McChrystal and Danny Doyle.
Freda Hughes, spokesperson for the IPSC, said, "The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign sends its congratulations to all those who participated in the convoy. It was a long, hard journey, but they made it. It was a brave effort and some of them were physically attacked by the Egyptian police along the way. The obstruction of the convoy by the Egyptian authorities was shameful and the attack on members of the convoy last night was an absolute disgrace, but we are glad to see that most of the humanitarian aid has finally reached its destination, where it is badly needed."
She continued, "It is especially appropriate that the siege of Gaza has been broken by this convoy at this time, which is exactly 12 months since the Israeli massacre in which 1,400 Palestinians were brutally killed. It is important to remember that more than 300 of those victims were children. We are also conscious that the Israeli blockade of Gaza continues and its impact is primarily on the civilian population. People in Gaza continue to suffer horribly. The Israeli siege of Gaza must end now."
There were 10 Irish participants on the convoy, from both north and south of the border, and three vehicles from Ireland.
Among those in Gaza at present are John Hurson from Tyrone, Kate O'Sullivan from Cork, and Dave Carroll, also from Cork. Dave Carroll was injured and required stiches following last night's attack on the convoy in El-Arish by Egyptian riot police.