1. bearing witness, shahida; continued.
“I haven’t been in the sea for three years, since i last saw my family in Gaza” says Abdullah, a young palestinian film-maker now living in Cairo. “I miss the sea so much, I have to go swimming, I don’t care how cold it is.” He bends down and picks up two handfuls of sand and smiles; a smile so big i feel like i am witnessing the reuniting of two lovers separated by war.
We follow Abdullah along the beach and onto the rocks, we take off our shoes and carefully walk along a pier of broken cement blocks to the sea. “I am going in, I have to.” He takes of his clothes and climbs down then dives in, arising with a loud shriek of joy and exhilaration from the cold. “How is it?” we ask. “Freezing!” he yells, but swims out a little way and floats and paddles around in circles and we feel we are really witnessing something really special and personal; we observe and feel mesmerised by the dense mist/fog/smoke/smog covering the horizon so thick we can bearly see 20 meters into the ocean, the sun is almost down and the light is blue white golden silver, the sounds of splashes and the lights of Rafah in the distance remind us of our journey.
2. borderlands, checkpoints; the crossing is nearly in sight.
I, along with 59 other international peace delegates arrived this afternoon in Al-Arish, Egypt, 40km from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. We all arrived in Cairo over the past few days, most people coming from the USA & Canada; including the parents of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American killed by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer in Gaza six years ago, and Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Alice Walker.
The group, organised and coordinated by CodePink, Women for Peace from the US, and the UNWRA Gaza Gender Division, are a mix of activists, writers, journalists, photographers, film-makers, videographers, students, academics, scholars, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. etc.
We are bringing with us 1000 gift baskets to present to the women of Gaza on March 8, International Women’s Day. Inshalla we get into Gaza tomorrow, we will be spending 4 days visiting different organisations, including: ,
We left Cairo this morning and travelled the 6 hour bus journey to Al-Arish, and tomorrow we plan to cross the border in to Gaza if we are allowed. There were a group of 50 activists from America and Europe who were let in earlier this afternoon so we are hoping for the same ‘luck’. Also the George Galloway Viva Palestinia Convoy coming with 110 vehicals will be arriving at Rafah tomorrow night.
*just a quick update as i am falling weary to this screen in a smokey seedy internet cafe in the late hours of Al-Arish streets and i must sleep…
More from Gaza, or at the border.
* please send round.