New Delhi: A group of more than 60 activists have begun a land journey to Gaza with the aim of challenging the Israeli blockade and delivering aid to the Palestinian people. The “Asia to Gaza solidarity caravan” is the first ever Asian land convoy to the disputed area and it will pass through six nations gathering supporters and aid along the way.
“The only aim of this caravan is to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and help them in any possible manner,” says Ashim Roy, general secretary of New Trade Union Initiative and also the convenor of the caravan.” We believe that there must be a strong Asian involvement in the global movement to end the siege of Gaza and liberation of Palestine”.
The caravan has already departed from Delhi with the aim of reaching Pakistan by 04 December. Earlier in the day, the group suffered a temporary setback because the Pakistan government denied them visas on security grounds. The visa is valid only till Lahore and from there the convoy will fly to Tehran.
According to Biraj Patnaik, one of the participants, most of the countries have been forthcoming in providing necessary help like gratis visas and logistical support. ”Interestingly, we are the first ever caravan for which Egypt has waived off the visa fee. Something it has not done for the previous convoys,” says Patnaik.
The group will travel accross Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt. The convoy will travel by land onwards Tehran and at Syrian port of Latakia, they’ll take a ship to Al Arish port in Egypt. From there on, it will enter Gaza by land on 27 December.
”We want to enter Gaza on 27 December as it is also the second anniversary of the attack by Israel in 2008. We want to join the Palestinians in the commeration of this unfortunate day,” says Roy. The delegation includes people of various nationalities like from Nepal, Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malayasia, Sri Lanka and Turkmenistan. About 200 people will in total land in Gaza on the d-day.
Palestine authorities are more than happy to welcome the caravan in the city and hopes that such initiative will only push forward the cause for an independent state of Palestine.