Dubai: A 1,300-strong international delegation has asked Egypt to reconsider a ban on allowing the Gaza Freedom March from delivering critical aid to Gazans, on the one-year anniversary of Israel's offensive against the territory.
British MP George Galloway, who is travelling with the convoy, said: "We feel very sad that Egypt has turned us away on Christmas Day, but we hope they will reconsider. This is a very determined convoy and we're not going anywhere except to Gaza."
The delegates, ranging from high-profile figures such as author Noam Chomsky, British MP George Galloway, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and Nobel Prize winner Mairead Maguire to diplomats, doctors, lawyers, students, interfaith groups that include rabbis, priests and imams, and others, are attempting to break the siege on Gaza by demanding the borders be opened a year after the War on Gaza left 1,400 dead.
Hundreds of tonnes of aid, including specialised medical equipment and powdered milk for babies, is now stockpiled in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba waiting for permission to enter Egypt via the Straits of Aqaba.
The convoy, jointly organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK, left London on December 6. It has enjoyed safe passage through Europe, Turkey, Syria and Jordan on its way to Gaza. It hopes to enter Gaza and break Israel's three and a half year illegal blockade of the strip via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on December 27.
Egyptian authorities have stated that the march will not be allowed due to security concerns and the "sensitive situation" in Gaza.
The blockade has essentially imprisoned the population and dimmed hopes for the youth.
Fatma Al Khatib was fortunate enough to graduate from the American school before it was demolished by an Israeli F-16 last winter, but she is no closer to realising her dream of leaving Gaza.
Al Khatib was accepted by the American universities of Cairo and Beirut, but she remains in Gaza because of the border closures.