Cairo (July 14, 2009) – Today, one day after its expected arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Viva Palestina USA announced that it will depart for Gaza as soon as it receives the necessary clearances from the Egyptian government with whom it currently is in direct negotiation. Viva Palestina USA today contacted White House and Secretary of State offices and calls on President Barack Obama to speak to Egyptian authorities and ask that its convoy be allowed to proceed to Gaza. Viva Palestina USA yesterday provided additional information requested on the same day by the Egyptian government, such as serial numbers and expiration dates for the medical aid.
In addition to Egyptian requests for supplemental information, all U.S. participants were required to sign and pay for an affidavit acknowledging individual participant assumption of risk for travel to Gaza with the understanding that consular services will not be provided by the State Department during Viva Palestina USA’s presence in the Gaza Strip. According to those knowledgeable about recent U.S. citizen travel to Gaza, the affidavit is an entirely new procedure never before required by the U.S. State Department for U.S. nationals traveling to Gaza. Viva Palestina USA has met this last-minute requirement.
Viva Palestina USA is ready to meet all requirements in order to get its humanitarian assistance to Gaza. However, Viva Palestina USA has bright lines that it cannot cross. One of those bright lines concerns the fate of some one half million dollars worth of vehicles that Viva Palestina USA purchased in Egypt and planned to deliver to hospitals and charitable organizations in Gaza. Those vehicles are now stranded at the Egyptian Freeport in Alexandria while negotiations take place.
Viva Palestina USA remains hopeful that all remaining issues will be resolved in the next few hours as negotiations continue.
The following message was sent to the White House and State Department today by Viva Palestina USA:
Dear Mr. President
Dear Madam Secretary
Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian relief effort for Gaza, is now in Egypt and requests your immediate assistance. We were supposed to have arrived in Gaza on Monday, July 13, 2009, but our arrival into Gaza was delayed because our departure from Cairo, Egypt was delayed by at least two days. Last-minute bureaucratic questions and additional requirements caused the delay. The people of Gaza can’t wait.
You have noted that Israel’s siege of Gaza should be eased and medical supplies should be allowed in. We are implementing what you reportedly put into writing. The people of Gaza need your help and we have important assistance for them. Please contact the Egyptian authorities and ask them to let Viva Palestina USA humanitarian assistance proceed through the Rafah crossing. We need your help today so that we can help the people of Gaza rebuild their lives devastated by occupation and brutal invasion
(on behalf of 200 Viva Palestina USA volunteers and thousands of Viva Palestina USA donors)