Citing escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us on December 20 that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,360 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now.
Although we consider this as a setback, it is something we've encountered -- and overcome -- before. No delegation, large or small, that has entered Gaza over the past 12 months has received a final OK before arriving at the Rafah border. Most delegations were discouraged from even heading out of Cairo to Rafah. Some had their buses stopped on the way. Some have been told outright that they could not go into Gaza. But after public and political pressure, the Egyptian government changed its position and let them pass.
Our efforts and plans will not be altered at this point. We have set out to break the siege of Gaza and to march in Gaza on December 31 against the international blockade. We are continuing the journey.
Egyptian embassies and missions all over the world will be hearing by phone, fax and email from delegates and the supporters of the Gaza Freedom March over the coming crucial days, with the clear message: Let the international delegation enter Gaza and let the Gaza Freedom March proceed.
Many delegates are already in Cairo and more are arriving daily. Delegates cancelled holiday plans months ago to come on the Gaza Freedom march and air tickets were purchased. We anticipate that virtually all of the 1,360 delegates will come to Cairo.
Because of the incredible humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by the Israeli attack on Gaza a year ago and by the international siege on Gaza, we feel morally obligated to continue our mission to bring more international attention to the plight of the 1.5 million people imprisoned there.