European parliamentarians to visit Gaza

NICOSIA, Nov. 5 – Thirteen European parliamentarians will join pro-Palestinian peace activists on their third voyage to the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday, organizers of the trip said in a statement. “Our dream two years ago was to bring people to Gaza to witness what Israel is doing. This time, we are honored to have parliamentarians from the world community coming with us,” said Mary Hughes-Thompson, one of the Free Gaza Movement initiators.

The 13 parliamentarians from England, Ireland, Italy, Wales, Switzerland, Scotland and Turkey will leave Larnaca port in southeastern Cyprus on Nov. 7, bringing with them medical supplies.

They plan to visit hospitals and send out medical supplies, and hope to meet with some of the 700 students who have been enrolled to study abroad but are now held up in Gaza.

“After two successful voyages, one in August and one last week, members of the Free Gaza Movement are pleased to bring yet another delegation to Gaza to see for themselves the devastation Israel has meted out to 1.5 million Palestinians,” said the statement.

Israel sealed off crossing points into the Gaza Strip in June 2007 in response to the Islamic Hamas movement’s taking over of the strip by force.

Israel has since allowed little more than essential food, aid and medical supplies into Gaza.

International activists are organizing the third voyage after Egypt refused to let some 53 international parliamentarians, who are to convene in Gaza from Nov. 8-11, to enter via the Rafah terminal.

Now, several of them are going to meet with their counterparts and assess the humanitarian situation there, the statement added.

“This journey will send a strong message to the world and is a direct challenge to the Israeli siege on Gaza. We hope this trip of parliamentarians will be one of many to follow,” said Osama Qashoo, another Free Gaza Movement organizer.

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