I learned Wednesday evening that the Egyptian authorities have not approved my travel with the medical convoy to Gaza tomorrow. No reason given.
When I heard the news about 12 hours before our expected departure, I felt like a deflated balloon. All the air and energy left me and I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I asked the convoy organizer if the other member of the VPM delegation (Viva Palestinia Malaysia) with whom I’m traveling was approved.
He was. That was good news.
And I knew my 375 cans of PediaSure, the bag of books for the library in Gaza, and the bag of vitamins for a sick doctor, would all make it to Gaza without me. InshaAllah.
But I was angry, depressed, and wanted to engage in combat with someone, anyone, everyone!
I returned to my room and the first post I saw on Facebook was by Stephen Zunes. He wrote:
“Hanan Ashrawi is a Quaker-educated Palestinian Christian who holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia. She served as the Palestine Authority’s minister of education and is the founder of MIFTA, a Palestinian NGO working to build a democratic society, and the Independent Commission for Human Rights. An anti-corruption and human rights campaigner and a feminist, she has long advocated for nonviolence and a two-state solution. She was scheduled to give a talk at the University of Massachusetts this week, but the U.S. government denied her a visa.”
This news puts my disappointment into perspective.
Then I read Vanunu Mordechai‘s post. He’s the Israeli whistleblower who many years ago leaked to the world that Israel has nuclear weapons, a fact that Israel still refuses to acknowledge to this day. Since 1986, Mordechai has been under constant surveillance by the Israeli government, and under a court order not to leave Israel nor speak with any foreigners who visit Israel. His legal team is still trying to get his forced internal exile reversed.
And then I read that Israel turned down all 181 applications of Palestinians invited by the organizers of a joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv this week. “Sources told Haaretz that the order banning the Palestinians came from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister. Netanyahu’s bureau declined to comment.”
This morning the convoy left Cairo bright and early. They are making very good progress today, crossing the Suez Canal and heading to Al-Arish. I wish them safe travels and many rewarding encounters when they arrive in Gaza.