Using the pretext of escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has informed organizers of the Gaza Freedom March 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, that we do not feel threatened, and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take,” organizers replied in a statement, adding that it was too late for over 1,300 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans. Organizers are calling for pressure on the Egyptian government to let the march pass into Gaza. (Gaza Freedom March, Dec. 21)
Among the 1,000 international delegates on the Gaza Freedom March is Jewish Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, whose parents perished in Auschwitz in 1942. Another prominent Jewish delegate, South African anti-apartheid leader Ronnie Kasrils whose grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Czarist Russia, will also join the march.
The participants intend to join Palestinians in a march across northern Gaza to the Erez border crossing with Israel. On the Israeli side, the marchers will join with Israeli supporters will call on the Israeli government to open the border.
Other participants include author Alice Walker, Syrian comedian Duraid Lahham, French legislator Alima Boumediene–Thiery, Philippine parliament member Walden Bello, former Italian Europarliament member Luisa Morgantini, president of the US Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner, Japanese former ambassador to Lebanon Naoto Amaki, and French hip-hop artists Ministere des Affaires Populaires. (Ma’an News Agency, Dec. 12)