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The Siege On Gaza Has Been Broken!


Those signed up to the Viva Palestina e-mail updates will have already been notified of the great news. After five thousand, arduous miles, and various troubles encountered at the Egyptian border (as detailed by sister Yvonne Ridley’s report below), the convoy of aid has finally reached Gaza. Alhamdulillah wa ‘Allahu akbar!

Please continue to support the convoy with your prayers, words of encouragements, and donations.

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Viva Palestina Update
15.30 (GMT) Monday 9th March 2009


And they entered side by side like heroes, some on foot some in their vehicles, tears, smiles, hugs, flowers. It was historic, it was legendary. Gaza we are here. We have fulfilled the promise – Viva Palestina! The lifeline from the people of Britain to you, the people of Gaza, has arrived.

We have broken the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the odds,we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to share your tragedy with you.

After another morning of intense negotiations, a deal was reached to allow all of the members of the convoy to go through. In the end, Viva Palestina had to make the sacrifice of agreeing that some vehicles will have to cross the border from the Al Ouja Israeli controlled crossing point. This includes our mascot, the fire engine and the boat. This was due to the restrictions imposed by Egyptian law governing the Rafah Crossing.

A tearful Talat Ali told me that ‘Rafah is the most beautiful crossing in the world’, he also said that the time , effort and sacrifices put in by all the Viva Palestina family meant that history has been made today – on the day the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was born.

George Galloway made an emotional speech thanking the people of Gaza for the wonderful reception and assuring them that for Viva Palestina and in our millions, “WE ARE ALL PALESTINIANS!” George also reiterated that the people of Palestine have voted and that their voice should be respected.

Today the convoy will head along the Salah Eddine road towards Gaza City witnessing along the way the destruction and death caused by the Israeli war machine. Along the way they will be greeted by the people of Gaza who will know that Viva Palestina is here and that they will NEVER BE ALONE.

Farid Arada

Yvonne Ridley reports from Viva Palestina
9th March 2009


The last 24 hours have probably been the blackest since the Viva Palestina convoy set off from London.

Yesterday the convoy members became the target of an orchestrated wave of violence first started by Egyptian police and then culminating in vicious attacks by unknown thugs.

The end result was a number of peace activists whose only aim is to take humanitarian aid into war torn Gaza were treated in hospital for head injuries.

Mercifully the string of casualties was not too serious but the experience denied us the chance of fulfilling our mission to deliver aid to Gaza yesterday.

And dramatic images of the rioting and attacks could not be relayed to Press TV viewers because someone sabotaged the satellite van by deliberately cutting through a vital cable which would have beamed the shameful attacks across the world.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and I would like to take this opportunity of personally thanking the Egyptian authorities and those dark forces who tried to derail Viva Palestina.

The event has only served to make us stronger, unite and bond us together more and created a wave of international media interest in Viva Palestina.

I think it would be fair to say that when you bring a diverse group of 300 plus people together on a gruelling mission to cover 5,000 miles driving across North Africa the result can result in a less than harmonious state of affairs.

To be frank, there was friction and infighting and some of us generally got on each other’s nerves as you would when you are confined to close quarters with challenging living, sleeping and eating conditions.

However, the deliberate bloody-mindedness of the Egyptian authorities did something we had failed to do for ourselves … it caused us to unite, bond and emerge stronger than ever from underneath the rows of police batons, bricks, bottles and stones.

The trouble began when the police – who were only obeying their orders – tried to break up the convoy into small groups of medical and non medical aid.  We were told the first would go through the Rafah crossing while the latter would go through an Israeli checkpoint.

This was never going to be accepted by anyone on board the convoy. Our aim from the outset was simple: Rafah or bust.

Giving aid to the people of Gaza has nothing to do with the Israelis and I do wish they would stop trying to make themselves centre stage in an affair that does not involve Tel Aviv.

As we dug in our heels about the convoy being physically divided, the authorities decided there was only one solution – batter us into submission, after all that is what police states do.

And so, when the police tried to get physical, the convoy members followed their natural instincts and used passive resistance to defend themselves.

Egyptian police are obviously not used to confronting stroppy westerners in such large numbers and so they retreated while a second wave was sent in. Hundreds of riot squad officers, wearing visors, carrying shields and batons tumbled in to one of the two car parks in a large town centre compound in the port of al Arish and set about the unarmed peace activists.

They too were heroically repelled  and what followed was an uneasy stand off as some convoy members received medical attention.

The net result was scores of vehicles had been able to escape the compound in which they were being held behind metal police barriers.

It was a minor victory and what followed was a very British response – the lads decided to have a game of football. I did try to persuade the Egyptian police to join in stressing they would have much more fun kicking a ball instead of kicking my comrades, but they seemed reluctant to let go of their batons.

As the night drew in the convoy leader George Galloway who was 40 kilometres down the road, was made aware of the battle of al Arish and so he refused to cross the Rafah Border in to Gaza and returned to the convoy.

It was a hard call to make as the international media had gathered at Rafah for a party that never happened. As usual the Israelis also played to stereotype by shelling and bombing parts of Gaza.

By the time Britain’s best known parliamentarian reached the compound night had fallen and bright stadium-style lights illuminated the two car parks.

Suddenly the area was plunged into darkness by a powercut which coincided with a brick, bottle and stone attacks on the convoy members by youths in their late teens and 20s. Seconds before the lights went out some convoy members saw a couple of unidentified men scrawling anti-Hamas slogans on lorries.

The lights remained out for some minutes, during which time the vicious attack was unleashed – the whole proceedings failed to warrant one single Egyptian police officer to swing his baton into action.

Those who had wielded their sticks with such a passion before, stood impassively by and watched the onslaught.

The power kicked back in again and the bright lights illuminated the scene to reveal several convoy members lying dazed and confused, blood dripping from gaping head wounds.

While they were ferried to hospital for treatment, there was a second powercut and a repeat of the violence.

Once again the police stood by and watched the thugs launch their attacks on unarmed and defenceless members of Viva Palestina.

Galloway, incandescent with rage held an urgent meeting with the governor of the region and secured assurances this would not happen again. He also secured a pledge that the convoy would be allowed to make its way to the Rafah crossing for 6am on Monday.

We’re now only a few hours away from that deadline and it remains to be seen if the governor will keep his word.

But regardless of what he decides I want to thank him for pulling every single member of Viva Palestina into one, united front.

Thanks to him and the cack-handed police operation, Viva Palestina has emerged refocussed and stronger than ever with one, determined goal: Rafah or bust.

And it will happen, inspite of the best efforts of Tel Aviv meddling and Egyptian authorities’ bullying.

The people united can never be defeated.

Gaza, next stop.

* British journalist Yvonne Ridley and award-winning film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani are on the Viva Palestina convoy making a documentary about the journey from London to Gaza. her website is and you can follow her updates by Twitter or Facebook

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Dr Mehzabeen b. Ibrahim joined MuslimMatters as a blogger in late 2007 under the handle 'iMuslim', whilst still a struggling grad student. Since then, she has attained a PhD in Molecular Biology and a subsequent Masters in Bioinformatics, and now works as a specialist in this field for a well-known British, medical charity, masha'Allah. Somewhere in between she found the time to get married, alhamdulillah. She likes to dabble in photo and videography, a sample of which can be found on her personal blog:



  1. Ibn Abu Aisha

    March 9, 2009 at 5:53 PM

    Subhan-Allah! Tired, exhausted travelers attacked and injured in such a cruel manner. Insha Allah for EVERY drop of blood and for EVERY hardship that they endured, I ask Allah to increase their stations in the Aakhirah. May Allah grant the convoy members firmness and guide them to the straight path. Ameen.

  2. AnonyMouse

    March 9, 2009 at 7:00 PM

    Amazing, subhanAllah!

  3. ShaamPeace

    March 9, 2009 at 7:55 PM

    May Allah Bless them! ameen.
    They entered Gaza in a special day! This is a joyous day…Oh how I wish I was there!

    ma salaama

  4. J

    March 9, 2009 at 8:12 PM

    May Allah [swt] destroy the neo-Crusader state of Israel. May Allah [swt] liberate the Palestinians, and unite this Ummah.

  5. Amad

    March 9, 2009 at 9:32 PM

    subhanAllah, may Allah curse and punish the scoundrels who attack poor innocent folks, there to help their Muslim brethren in Gaza. Egypt is like Israel’s bit**, and when Israel told her to bite, she fully complied. I wonder who these teens were, unemployed youth paid to do Egypt’s dirty work. May Allah destroy Hosni Mubarak, and give him the highest form of punishment that he deserves.

  6. Amad

    March 9, 2009 at 9:37 PM

    George Galloway– you are a HERO. May Allah bring you to Islam and reward you for your sacrifices.

  7. Amatullah

    March 9, 2009 at 9:58 PM

    MashaAllah! Allahu Akbar! I saw it on the news today.

    InshaAllah he will be coming to the Muslim link fundraiser in a few weeks…anyone on the east coast should come inshaAllah!

  8. Umm Maymoonah

    March 9, 2009 at 11:33 PM

    AssalamuAlaikum please also visit

  9. mofw

    March 10, 2009 at 8:51 AM

    This is pathetic! Look at what 300 international volunteers can do. Imagine if even a tenth of a percent of over a billion Muslim just lifted a finger what could be accomplished. These people, May ALLAH guide and reward them, have shamed the entire Muslim world.

  10. Faiez

    March 10, 2009 at 2:13 PM

    This is pathetic! Look at what 300 international volunteers can do. Imagine if even a tenth of a percent of over a billion Muslim just lifted a finger what could be accomplished. These people, May ALLAH guide and reward them, have shamed the entire Muslim world.

    Well put. Instead of doing the usual writing to their politicians who could give less of a dam, writing a blog post, or protesting outside an empty building, they actually did something.

    When someone is determined to do something, it breeds creativity and the will. Otherwise we get the other results.

    • Amad

      March 10, 2009 at 2:28 PM

      Yes good point MOFW. But let’s remember that it is the “new media” that helped give this effort the attention it deserved… so don’t take anything away from those who worked on this effort but did not go… the website designers, the marketing folks, etc. Everyone cannot do everything. We can all use our respective God-given powers to do our little part. Of course the reward is also equivalently low, but it is still “something”, which is more than “nothing” :)

      May Allah reward all according to their intentions and their efforts, as He is Most Just.

  11. bintashraf

    March 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM

    Subhanallah I had read about them reaching but not about the attacks. Shame on those teens for attaching innocents like that. Shame on the police for just standing by! Cowards!! At least there is comfort in the assurance that Allah will reward each and every hardship, big or small, endured by the volunteers on this trip inshallah. May Allah reward them all abundantly and allow our ummah to step up and take a more active stance against oppression around the world.

  12. kaschif

    March 11, 2009 at 2:36 AM


    tell them to go through Israel to the west bank, israel continues its annexation of muslim lands:

  13. midatlantic

    March 11, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    On a slightly different note, and closer to home, please check out Chas Freemans slamming of the Israel lobby as he explains his decision not to serve as Intelligence Chair:

    • Amad

      March 11, 2009 at 8:01 AM

      Thanks midatlantic for bringing this sad news of Chas’s decision not to serve as IC (no doubt it was probably not much of a choice). This once again proves the tremendous power of the Israel Lobby. I wrote about this here a little while ago… I was hoping against hope that the Lobby wouldn’t be able to dislodge him, but alas, once again they have proven their destructive force. More evidence that US policy on Israel, with or without Obama, faces such mountains of challenge from the Lobby, that constructive change will be destructive for those who call it:

      Neocons / Ziocons / Israeli Far-Right Attack Obama’s Intel (NIC) Pick, Chas Freeman

  14. midatlantic

    March 11, 2009 at 8:00 AM

    BTW George Galloway will be the main speaker at The Muslim Link’s Fundraiser on March 29 at 3:30pm in VA. Please support this local muslim paper if you are in the area.

  15. Manas Shaikh

    March 11, 2009 at 10:52 AM

    I am sorry to point out that the title is an overstatement. Even though this is a happy occasion, we should not be overjoyed. Let’s work together to resolve this, inshaAllah.

  16. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    March 12, 2009 at 12:25 AM

    bismillah was salamu alaykum, did anyone else notice that they were at their strongest because of the ordeal which Allah put them through? remember the story of the shaykh who set his dog loose on his students, until one day they were able to approach in peace. they wondered what had happened, and their shaykh told them that “the one who used to enjoin the good and forbid the evil” had passed away.

    why? because the ordeal of the getting past the dog was too much for the weak-hearted among the students. only those who were committed to what was good would risk the dog to pursue beneficial knowledge and the pleasure of Allah.

    in some way, the story applies to this convoy whose people persevered through a brief Egyptian gauntlet. but in a much greater way, to the people of Palestine, and especially those who have never given up, who have never surrendered. may the hateful dog(s) that savages Palestine perish soon. surely the dog of the shaykh was more righteous than the evil that torments Palestine.

  17. Farhan

    March 12, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    may Allah give us the strength to help our Palestinian brothers and sisters

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