After a tense ten day stand-off in Syria, the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza has now been cleared to sail.
The convoy started out from London on Saturday 18th September and drove down through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before arriving in the port of Latakia, Syria, on Saturday 2nd October. In Latakia, the convoy has been joined by two other convoys. One came from Morocco and Algeria, the other originated in Doha and came through the Gulf states and Jordan.
There are now 147 vehicles about to board two ships together with 380 people from some 30 countries stretching from New Zealand and Australia to Canada and the United States carrying aid worth some 5 million dollars. This includes 40 people who were on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which was attacked by Israeli commandos murdering ten human rights activists from Turkey.
Over the last ten days in Syria, the convoy has taken on medical supplies urgently needed in the besieged Gaza Strip. Simultaneously negotiations have been conducted with the Egyptian authorities to allow passage into the port of Al Arish and then on to the Rafah Crossing. The support of the Syrian authorities and others has been vital in the successful negotiations.
Last night word finally came through that the Egyptian authorities would allow the ships to dock, unload and passage through to the Rafah Crossing and Gaza would be guaranteed.
The ships will now sail past the place where the Mavi Marmara was attacked and flowers will be laid in memory of the victims. When the convoy reaches Gaza the soil from the graves of some of those who were murdered will be used to plant trees as a memorial to the Mavi Marmara victims.
The convoy hopes to reach Gaza this Saturday or Sunday.