For Immediate Release


Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Will Egypt Prevent Marchers from Entering Gaza?


Balicki, Wright and Benjamin are with the group CODEPINK, which is organizing the Gaza Freedom March
on Dec. 31. A delegation to Gaza will begin in Cairo on Dec. 27, one
year after the start of the "Cast Lead" bombing of Gaza by Israel.

Among the people going on the delegation are: author Alice Walker,
musician Roger Waters, Filipino member of parliament Walden Bello, founder Ali Abunimah, IPA communications director Sam Husseini and Epstein, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and author of Remembering Is Not Enough.
After World War II, she worked at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which
tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on
concentration camp inmates.

CODEPINK recently put out a statement: "Citing escalating tensions
on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us on
Dec. 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."

The number for the Egyptian embassy in Washington, D.C. is (202) 895-5400; the contact person is Omar Youssef.

Farah, who has family in Gaza and grew up in Jerusalem, is a spokesperson for the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace.
They are holding a march and vigil in downtown Washington, D.C. in
solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March that involves several groups
including Jewish Voice for Peace.

He said today: "As people all around the world sing 'O Little Town
of Bethlehem,' the Palestinians in Bethlehem and the rest of the
Occupied Palestinian territories continue to be oppressed. Nowhere is
that more bitter than in Gaza, where over 1,300 Palestinians were
killed during 22 days of bombings. Living conditions in Gaza remain
desperate as Israel continues to impose its siege on 1.5 million
Palestinians, preventing almost anyone from leaving the strip and
making it virtually impossible to rebuild or repair the thousands of
homes and businesses that were demolished during the attack."

Background: See the new report from Amnesty International,
which states: "The international community has betrayed the people of
Gaza by failing to back their words with effective action to secure the
ending of the Israeli blockade which is preventing reconstruction and
recovery, say a group of 16 leading humanitarian and human rights
groups in a new report released today (22 December) ahead of the
anniversary of the start of Israel's military offensive in Gaza (27
December-18 January)."



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