update from gaza freedom march, and how you can help

As you know, the international delegation known as the Gaza Freedom March has been stranded at the border with Egypt, unable to bring food, supplies and hope to the Palestinians caught in the Gaza siege.

The Egyptian government, negotiating with the Marchers, said it would allow 100 of the 1,300 delegates over the border into Gaza. The Canadian delegation, along with delegations from France, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden and New York State, rejected the offer.

"We flatly reject Egypt's offer of a token gesture. We refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza. Our group will continue working to get all 1362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine," said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march Coordinating Committee.

Here's an update - and what you can do - from Sandra Ruch :
Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us yesterday that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now. We both agreed to continue our exchanges.

Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered - and overcome - before. No delegation, large or small, that entered Gaza over the past 12 months has ever received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.

Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and march on December 31 against the Israeli blockade. We are continuing in the same direction.

We will keep urging the Egyptian representatives in Canada through our rally and by making constant phone calls, flooding them with emails, and sending faxes, to PRESSURE THE EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT and PUT AN END TO THIS INJUSTICE ON THE PEOPLE OF GAZA.

The Gaza Freedom March was organized to focus attention on the one-year mark since Israel's 22-day assault, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and injured more than 5,000. The invasion ended, but the aftermath has only worsened. No re-building materials have been allowed in and more than 80 percent of Gazans now depend on charity for basic survival.

The marchers had planned to enter Gaza on December 27, crossing at Egypt's Rafah Crossing, then joining with 50,000 Palestinian residents in a march to the Erez Crossing, into Israel, to peacefully demand an end to the siege.

Just days before hundreds of delegates began arriving in Cairo, Hosni Mubarak's government announced that the march would not be allowed to go forward, citing ongoing tensions at the border.

When marchers peacefully demonstrated against the decision, the government cracked down, using heavily armed riot police to intimidate, beat and arrest the nonviolent marchers.

Here's how you can help. Please click and add your voice to the global movement calling for an end to the siege.

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