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Nov-07-2010 18:18printcomments

Road to Hope Convoys Remain Stalled but Determined to Reach Gaza

Everyone reading this should contact their nation's embassy connections with Egypt.

Ken O'Keefe in Libya
Ken O'Keefe on far left, receiving flowers from the locals at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. Photo: Sonette Aboud

(TOBRUK / SALEM) - As we learn of Isreli F-16 jet fighter strikes on the southern Gaza Strip, the Road to Hope convoy still is stalled at Libya's border with Egypt. Our writer Ken O'Keefe is with this group who drove a large convoy of vehicles from Europe with the intention of delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, by entering through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into Gaza.

Ken O'Keefe says "We continue to wait, there is some reason to believe a ship will be provided in the next few days, again we shall see."

Rafah Border Crossing

The Rafah Border Crossing is the only point of entry between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The site used to be manned by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF); today the crossing is under the control of 750 Egyptian soldiers who work in concert with Israeli policies and needs.

Control of the Palestinian side has traded hands in recent years; the Palestinian Authority took over operation of the Gaza side in September 2005, but Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Presidential Guard took control the following year over Israeli 'security concerns'.

The Rafah Border Crossing

On the Egyptian side, the responsibility is in the hands of 750 Border Guards who operate under an agreement between Egypt and Israel. In November 2005, the agreement was signed, forced by US pressure, ensuring the crossing would be governed under security requirements demanded by Israel.

The crossing was supposed to open, but Israel balked; Hamas fired unguided rockets at Israel, and the Jewish state responded by unleashing a brutal illegal military attack on Gaza that left over 1400 people, mostly civilians, dead or dying. Hundreds of children were crushed, mutilated and burned to death.

Pressure from this Israeli attack known as 'Operation Cast Lead' has led to repeated attempts to break the illegal siege of Gaza. Israel bombs and destroys Gaza, and then refuses to allow aid to be delivered to the battered population of 1.5 million who live in a virtual open air concentration camp; surrounded by walls and an ocean patrolled by trigger happy Israeli IDF sailors.

In May 2010 a flotilla of ships including the Turkish flagged ship Mavi Marmara, were in formation, planning to deliver thousands of tons of aid to Gaza, when they were stormed by Israeli commandos.

Thousands gathered for the Mavi Marmara's departure.

Israel violated multiple international laws by attacking on the high seas and boarding the humanitarian aid ships and ultimately hijacking almost all of the cargo.

But that is on the material side; the Israeli soldiers attacked the people aboard the Mavi Marmara with intentional deadly force, in the middle of the night, when the vessels were nowhere close to Israeli waters.

Ken and a handful of others who are in the convoy were aboard the Mavi Marmara in the May 2010 during the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla that left nine dead.

As Wikipedia states, in the wake of the Mavi Marmara attack, things changed at Rafah:

On June 1st 2010, in the midst of international uproar following Israel's attack on a relief boat, Egypt announced it was opening the border crossing.

Stranger than fiction Order Now

The convoy has gone far to reach the point where they are, they are in serious limbo as I noted in my last article about their struggle to reach Palestine. Egypt allows foreign vehicles with tourists to travel through their nation freely, but not an aid convoy of good will.

O'Keefe said, "There is a limit to how long we can play this sit and wait game before the convoy members will go straight to the border. I would ask that everyone be ready to turn the pressure on big time if we are forced to do this."

Everyone reading this should contact their nation's embassy connections with Egypt.

James Connolly put together the embassy phone numbers; he hopes others pass these numbers around and get the Gaza border open for the Road to Hope.

USA 202 895 5400
Algeria (+21321) 691807
England (0207) 499 3304
France (+33) 491 250 404
Ireland (+353) 1 660 6718
Italy (+39) 6 844 0192
Jordan (+96) 23... 201 6181
Malaysia (+60) 3 4256 8184
Spain (+34) 91 577... 6308
Syria (+96311) 3330 756
Tunisia (+216) 7180 0447
Turkey (+90) 312 468 4647

Previous reports on the Road to Hope Convoy:

Nov-03-2010 In Limbo in Libya: Gaza Road to Hope Convoy Urges Contact with Egyptian Embassies - Tim King Salem-News.com

Nov-01-2010: Road to Hope (R2H) Convoy in Positive Dialogue with Egyptian Officials - Salem-News.com

Oct-30-2010: Road to Hope Convoy Stalled at Egyptian Border - Salem-News.com

Oct-29-2010: Egypt Working with Road to Hope Convoy: Group Still Enroute to Gaza - Tim King Salem-News.com

Oct-26-2010: Road to Hope Convoy with Ken O'Keefe Approaching Gaza - Tim King Salem-News.com

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 65 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.