Viva Palestina Email Alert
23.00 (GMT) Sunday 15th March 2005

They have gone. The ‘angels’, some called them ‘saviours’, but in reality just ordinary men and women who took part in an extraordinary act – and in doing so brought hope and put smiles on the faces of thousands of Gaza children have all finally left.

All that remains in Gaza is the aid they left behind – the right-hand drive vehicles including many ambulances, now roaming the streets of Rafah, Khan Younes, Beit Hanoun and Gaza City – and the memories.

The memories of those heroes, from all walks of life, who crossed continents to reach them, of the jokes and laughter they shared, of the tales of suffering they found the courage to speak about to their guests.

At the Rafah crossing, where they numbered in excess of sixty five, they were inconsolable. Some of them sobbing, whilst others were speechless, sitting at the back of the coach on the way to Cairo, reflecting on what they have just witnessed and left behind.

After a long wait, they all headed for Al Arich, the scene of their final push towards Rafah barely a week ago. More waiting was to follow until transport was finally arranged and their journey home began.

Yet things are never that easy. Last night, some of our team spent several hours in the unscheduled company of scores of armed Egyptian police at the side of the road. But the waiting, tense at first, was relieved with the arrival of food and tea, brought by the Libyan drivers from the convoy. More police then arrived with a van full of plastic chairs, so at least they could all sit down as they waited for ‘instructions’! In the end common sense prevailed and our team joined the Libyans in their compound for the evening.

Contacts have been established, money was pledged or handed over for a multitude of projects by Viva Palestina.

Whilst world leaders are pledging billions for Gaza there remain disagreements on who should take charge of the reconstruction. Viva Palestina have started the process, George Galloway and the team walked the walk.

It took one man to show the way and open the door for other brave men and women to reach this besieged concentration camp known as the Gaza Strip.

Khalid Amayresh wrote ‘I salute you for challenging the forces of hypocrisy and moral duplicity back in Britain who instead of calling Israel a criminal state ruled by an evil clique of war criminals, by its real name, hasten to blame the helpless victims for surviving the recent genocide in Gaza and clinging to life, dignity and freedom.’

‘I salute you for being a “non-conformist”, because in a world overwhelmed by hypocrisy, immorality, human depravity, unethical expediency, and repulsive political correctness, it takes a true non-conformist to uphold true human values. And above all, I salute you for exposing and putting to shame the treacherous Arab leaders who played their fiddle while Gaza was burning’. The same is true of everyone who made this convoy possible.

Tonight Gaza reflects, stronger, with some more hope and belief than before. Viva Palestina was our lifeline for Gaza injecting love and hope into the veins of Palestinians. Tonight Gaza reflects on the ‘angels’ who came to town and they know that angels always come back.

Farid Arada (additional reporting by Clive Searle)