The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK co-founder, 018 9561919 or 972-059-706-4075

Tighe Barry, CODEPINK activist, 011-2019-4812932 (in Cairo)
Jean Stevens, CODEPINK national media coordinator, 508-769-2138 (in U.S.)

Nine Members of International Women's Delegation Stay Behind in Gaza

A Palestinian delegate is detained at border, will attempt to cross again March 15


Nine members of the 60-member aid delegation
to Gaza with novelist Alice Walker have decided to stay back in Gaza several
extra days until this Sunday, March 15, and one member, Palestinian Abdullah al Ghoul, was detained at the Rafah
border and will attempt to leave early next week.

The rest of the 60 delegates
crossed out of the war-torn region March 11 and will return to Cairo and
home today and within the next few days.

The delegation, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker and organized
by the peace group CODEPINK, was allowed through the Rafah, Egypt,
crossing in time for International Women's Day, March 8. The crossing
has been closed by the Egyptian government almost continuously since
July 2007. However, Egyptian First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, chairman of
the Egyptian Red Crescent (similar to the Red Cross) and president of
the National Women's Committee, communicated her "blessing" of the
mission through the Red Crescent team that escorted the delegation
through the crossing.

"We want to send a message to the governments of both Egypt and Israel that the borders must be opened to all individuals and organizations," said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. " Long-term peace and prosperity are not possible without freedom of movement."

The CODEPINK delegation was invited
to the region by the Gender Initiative of the United Nations' Relief
and Works Agency (UNRWA), a program dedicated to promoting the rights
of girls and women in the Gaza Strip. On the six-day visit in Gaza, the delegates met with social-service organizations and delivered more than 1,000 gift baskets to Gazan women and celebrated International Women's Day March 8. This weekend they plan to visit the Palestinian Human Rights Center, the Palestinian Relief Center, hospitals and farms.

Red Crescent estimates that 1,000 truckloads of supplies and other
goods are needed every day to meet the needs of the 1.5 million
residents of the Gaza Strip. Yet, the UN reports that the daily average
has been only 125 truckloads since the borders closed about 18 months

Also among the participants are Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of 23-year-old Rachel Corrie,
who was struck and killed six years ago this month by an Israeli
bulldozer while trying to block the demolition of a Gazan home.

CODEPINK is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace and human rights initiatives, and redirect our tax dollars into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming programs.

(818) 275-7232