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Special Peace Team to Gaza, February 24, 2009

Egyptian official tells Peter and Liz, "You cannot enter Gaza." (first photo)

Middle Photo: Protest on February 24, 2009 at the Rafah Crossing

Last Photo: Children entering war torn Gaza Today

For a second day we (Liz and Peter) arrived at the Rafah Crossing border on the Egyptian side and requested entry into Gaza. Like yesterday, we were denied entry. No internationals are being allowed to enter, no matter what NGO they may represent.

Palestinians who live in Gaza are being allowed to return home, and for that we are glad. Few Gazans are being allowed out of Gaza. A Red Crescent ambulance arrived at the entrance, transporting a Gazan man, age 48, lying on a pallet. He had been injured in the head during the 22-day Israeli invasion of December-January. He was taken to a hospital in Cairo, and today was being brought home.

We met other internationals who also are attempting to enter Gaza. We became a small bonded group for the day.

One woman is Palestinian, born in and living in the U.S., who is not being allowed to see her family living in Gaza because she does not have Palestinian resident I.D. She and another Palestinian living in the same city brought a modest amount of medicine and other goods which were admitted into Gaza yesterday.

This passionate vocal woman brought a fine large banner saying "We are all Gaza." She invited us to join in holding this banner in front of the gate and chanting "Freedom for Palestine; Justice for Palestine!" We and a few others did so gladly. Egypt TV arrived and briefly filmed this vigil.

A man who is Egyptian and lives in Toronto teaches electrical and computer engineering at a university. He has been part of a group doing the same work as MPT.

A Bosnian man who had been raised in Syria represents an NGO in Bosnia called International Forum of Solidarity-Emmaus.

Looking just beyond the Rafah Crossing entrance we saw the Israeli gun tower that we had come to know a few years ago as we accompanied the Palestinians within Rafah, Gaza. We also saw that the huge wall along the Egypt-Gaza border was now gone. The space between called the Philadelphi Corridor used to routinely have many tanks that roamed, invaded, and shot at Gazans and their homes. In 2005 the Israelis withdrew Israeli settlers, soldiers and the tanks. But as we have seen, Israel invades Gaza at will, as they did in Operation Cast Iron.

Our small group traveled to the town of Rafah, Egypt, which has many soldiers and police out in force. We (Liz and Peter) wanted to see into Rafah, Gaza. Our hearts are with our friends there that we cannot see now face to face, though we communicate by phone. Liz identified the tower near the entrance of the Gaza Strip, north of Gaza City.

In the next few days we will share interviews and photos from our friends in Gaza whom we cannot greet face to face because of the oppressive closure of the borders that deny entry of adequate necessities of life to Gazans who are enclosed in their prison.

Imprisoned they may be, but we celebrate their will to carry on and their hope for a free Palestine.

--Liz and Peter

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