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US Activists Head to Gaza

On my way to a restaurant in Brooklyn, I ran into two New York activists who would be heading to Gaza Saturday morning to deliver medical supplies and other “humanitarian goods.” While I had no time to conduct an interview with college students Christopher Westing and Rishi Ghosh, it appears they arrived safely in Egypt today.

The Associated Press reports,

About 100 U.S. activists arrived in Egypt Sunday on their way to Gaza, hoping to deliver medical aid, trucks and support for lifting a 2-year old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory.

The activists are part of a charity group called “Viva Palestina” that aims to send a convoy of at least 200 people _ all Americans _ to Gaza by July 13. If their convoy is allowed to proceed, it would mark one of the largest groups of U.S. activists to reach the strip since the Islamic militant group Hamas wrestled control of the territory from its rival Fatah in 2007.

Aid going through Egypt must first be cleared by the Egyptian government. It was unclear whether authorities would approve this convoy. Most convoys going over land have been allowed to pass but usually after delays and bureaucracy at the borders.

The activists that arrived in Cairo Sunday will wait in Cairo for the rest of their group and supplies to assemble before heading to the border. The group is organized by British lawmaker George Galloway, who led a convoy that entered Gaza in March.

At the Cairo airport Sunday, the eclectic group of volunteers from different states, including rabbis and Christian activists, congregated in their blue T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Viva Palestina.”

Organizer Mansour al-Barbari, from Boise, Idaho, said the group so far has raised more than $1 million to pay for the shipment of trucks, small vans and medical and other supplies. He said the trip was designed to open up Americans’ eyes to what is happening in Gaza.

The success of the mission is challenged as well by the interception of the Israeli navy, which intercepted a ship Tuesday carrying foreign peace activists who were trying to break the blockade.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
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