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Report from Special Team to Gaza, February 20, 2009

From Cairo To Rafah

We are here in Cairo to get what papers we need in our attempt to enter Gaza through Rafah, Egypt, while we also continue our first option to seek entry through Israel.

On Wednesday, February 18, 2009, Israel informed Hamas that the crossings into Gaza will remain closed except for humanitarian needs until Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit is released by Hamas. This decision comes after a confusing week of mixed messages by the Israeli government that led its own chief negotiator, Amos Gilad, to criticize his government's decision that Hamas must first release Schalit before there is any talk of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

This decision affects us because the present policy of letting in a restricted number of NGOs and people like ourselves into Gaza will continue.

Michigan Peace Team holds the position that it is not up to us to decide how Palestinians and Israelis work out a resolution to the conflicts between them. We insist that it must be a just solution for Palestinians and Israelis, providing security for all. The violence must end on both sides. This means the occupation of Palestine by Israel must end, and rockets fired at Israeli civilians must end. Postponing negotiations that lead to a just solution is in itself unjust. Popular society should exert pressure on governments toward this end.

We head for the Rafah border crossing soon.

--Liz an Peter

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