Protesters reject Egypt’s Gaza offer
30/12/2009 – 14:15
Bethlehem – Ma’an – The organizers of the Gaza Freedom March rejected an Egyptian offer on Wednesday to allow 100 out of 1,300 supporters into the Gaza Strip.
“We flatly reject Egypt’s offer of a token gesture. We refuse to whitewash the siege of Gaza,” said Ziyaad Lunat a member of the march’s Coordinating Committee in a statement.
“Our group will continue working to get all 1,362 marchers into Gaza as one step towards the ultimate goal for the complete end of the siege and the liberation of Palestine,” he added.
The Freedom March will walk the 41 kilometers from the southern end of Gaza at the Rafah crossing to the northern end at Israel’s Erez crossing; the march was scheduled to take place on Thursday.
Some organizers reportedly welcomed the Egyptian offer.
“It’s a partial victory,” said Medea Benjamin, American activist one of the March’s organizers, as quoted by AFP. “It shows that mass pressure has an effect.”
According to AFP, the Egyptian government offered to allow the organizers to choose who would enter Gaza. The group of 100 was due to travel to the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday morning.
Others denounced the move as divisive and vowed to continue protests.
On Monday, organizers said around 40 American demonstrators were detained by Egyptian forces at the US Embassy in Cairo where they went to seek assistance in their bid to enter Gaza.
The group staged other protests outside the French Embassy and the local UN headquarters. Some members of the group have been on a hunger strike.
The march was organized to call attention to the Israeli-led blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has prevented reconstruction of the territory from last winter’s military offensive which left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.