Italy, May 5, 2009-The climax to the Seventh Palestinians in Europe conference was the launch of the long anticipated ‘Hope for Gaza convoy' The convoy moved to Genoa and is now in the Mediterranean carried by a shipping boat.
The convoy is destined for the Gaza Strip and carries provisions for the education and medical sectors, specifically for Palestinians with special needs - those who were handicapped by the major Israeli attacks of December and January.
Through a chorus of cheers and tears the convoy of a dozen well-equipped ambulances and some 30 trucks loaded with medical and humanitarian supplies set sail on a cargo ship from Genoa along with human rights volunteers, European parliamentarians, and journalists.
Non-governmental organizations, institutions and human solidarity movements across the continent are part of the global movement campaigning for the besieged people in Gaza. They are forming a strong coalition of activists, professionals from various backgrounds, politicians, human rights organizations who are dedicated in bringing to light Israeli crimes and violations of international law as well as the routine imprisonment of the Palestinian people in their homes.
Beginning in Milan on Sunday evening the convoy travelled to the Italian port city of Genoa where it set sail for Alexandria, Egypt. From there it will travel by land Sinai with the intention of passing into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing.
Representatives of Palestinian rights groups chanted slogans of solidarity saying that "Gaza is a symbol of pride." With thousands of people killed or injured, in addition to the destruction of home and business, the convoy is urgently needed to deliver some respite and gestures of kindness to a people who are in danger in losing hope in basic human kindness. Past convoys have found it difficult to deliver the desperately needed aid, at present we can only be cautiously optimistic that this convoy will be allowed to pass.
Palestinian flags waved high above the cheers and tears as the convoy set out. Dr. Arafat Madi, President of the European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza, said, "What we are doing is the least we can do. It is a drop in the ocean compared to the sacrifices made by our people in Palestine..""Dr. Madi added, "We promised our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip We will invest all our efforts to send these aids and medical kits for those who deserve it in Gaza. Many people have been left maimed and disabled. All of us agree that they need urgent aid, especially medical aids to help in their grueling rehabilitation from the latest."
The convoy is headed by 12 high-profile politicians from across Europe including, Britain, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland and Greece. Also joining the convoy will be many people from the Arab and Muslim communities from various European countries.