Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Breaking the Blockade
The first person to greet me at the gates of Rafah was a small woman in a blue headscarf. "Thank you, thank you for not forgetting us" she whispered over and over again as she cried into my shoulder, and that was what it was all about. It was not the relief of getting into Gaza after so many weeks of frustration, it was not the fact that we were pretty clever to have broken through the blockade with little more than' right' on our side (and absolutely no 'might'), it was the fact that by our presence these besieged unpeople knew that this small band of 360 travellers had not forgotten them.
I cried. I cried because I was cross. I cried because I was angry. I cried because out of the whole damn world only 360 people had bothered to join the convoy and do something for these people. I cried because there are literally millions of people would prefer to sit on their fat arses and dodge the truth whilst so many Palestinians suffer.
This is a world political issue. This is not famine or earthquake. This is you and you by your non-action condoning the spreading of lies and deceit. I cried for shame.
We drove the few miles to Gaza City and it took hours. Every person in Gaza had turned out of their houses. Every man woman and child lined the streets to greet us and cheer us and cry with us. At times we came to a standstill and the good people of Hamas had to clear another way so that we could inch forward a little further. There were no streetlights, just the beam of happy faces wanting to touch our hands as if we were messiahs. I felt humbled and ashamed. How could so few enable the political changes necessary to give these people back their basic human rights - the right to clean water, the right to travel, the right not to be bombed out of existence, the right to peace and security.
Later that night I was admitted to hospital. My stomach problem had got worse and I was put on a drip. It was lucky for me that we had brought medical aid with us because there had not been even a simple sterile saline solution in Gaza for more then 5 weeks previously. The hospital was shabby and ill equipped. The doctors and nurses were pristine, well qualified and spoke English. I had mixed feelings about using the precious resources they had, but was very glad of some help. My ability to carry on through this emotional and physical journey was becoming debatable, but carry on I would.