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Egypt Blocks Americans from Gaza March, Stops Aid Convoy


The government of Egypt is taking a spectacularly hard line against international solidarity efforts in support of civilians in Gaza on the one-year anniversary of the Israeli invasion, blocking peace marchers from the U.S., Canada, and Europe from even approaching the Egyptian border with Gaza and blocking an aid convoy that has the support of the Turkish government from entering Egypt at Nuweiba.  Even a peaceful protest at UN offices in Cairo was largely walled off from public view by Egyptian police.

 

It seems that any pretense of Egyptian government concern for the suffering of Palestinian civilians has been dropped, along with the pretense that there is anything less than 100% cooperation from Egypt and its US and European patrons with Israel’s program of punishing Gaza’s population for the political crime of having provided majority support to the Hamas movement in a legislative election.

 

Meanwhile there is largely a U.S. press blackout of these striking developments.  A search of the New York Times and the Washington Post only turns up a tiny AP story on the websites of the Times and the Post.

 

As has frequently been the case, Agence France-Presse (AFP) pays more attention to these developments.  On Monday, AFP reports that Hedy Epstein and other members of the Gaza Freedom March have begun a hunger strike to press the Egyptian government to allow them to enter Gaza:

 

An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was among a group of grandmothers who began a hunger strike in Cairo on Monday to protest against Egypt’s refusal to allow a Gaza solidarity march to proceed.

 

American activist Hedy Epstein and other grandmothers participating in the Gaza Freedom March began a hunger strike at 1000 GMT.

 

"I’ve never done this before, I don’t know how my body will react, but I’ll do whatever it takes," Epstein told AFP, sitting on a chair surrounded by hundreds of protesters outside the United Nations building in Cairo.

 

On Sunday, AFP reported on the efforts of the Viva Palestina aid convoy to enter Egypt, with the support of the Turkish government:

 

An aid convoy trying to reach the blockaded Gaza Strip through Egypt was still stranded in Jordan on Sunday amid Cairo’s refusal to let it cross through its territory.

 

Members of the convoy, which is led by British MP George Galloway, were however hoping for a solution thanks to mediation by Turkey to enter Gaza through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, the most direct route.

 

The British-initiated aid convoy has at least been mentioned by the BBC, but NPR has not reported on the U.S.-initiated Gaza Freedom March.

 

Wouldn’t you be a little bit curious to know what explanations the New York Times, the Washington Post, and NPR would provide for ignoring these developments?  Why not ask the Public Editor at the New York Times, ask the Ombudsman at the Washington Post, and ask the Ombudsman at NPR to give it their best shot?

 

 

Robert Naiman is National Coordinator of Just Foreign Policy.  Naiman also edits the daily Just Foreign Policy news summary and blogs at the Web site of Just Foreign Policy.  This article was first published in the Just Foreign Policy blog on 28 December 2009.

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