Gaza "HOPE" Convoy Updates

I have been a member here for sometime but have never posted here until now. I have two friends on the "Hope" convoy to Gaza. One of them is a Politician from Ireland, the Sinn Fein Representative and Deputy Leader of the convoy, Clr Gerry MacLochlainn.
 I am getting many updates daily from both friends, and I thought I would post them here as people may be interested in reading the progress. I have just pasted them below as they appear in my blog. From most recent backwards, including the latest press release as well.
17:51 PM Dublin Time:

just got a text message that an interview was just done in Al Arish with the Sinn Fein Representative and Deputy Convoy leader Gerry MacLochlainn by Aljazeera. Possibly some others were interviewed as well, so watch for that. I am trying to find out if it was for television with cameras, or just an interview that will appear in print on their website. Also, there are reports that a big media presence has assembled at the border for tomorrows hopeful crossing by the convoy, so more interviews to be done then at the border.

(updated x1 @ 19:09 Dublin time: It was a television interview and it was done as the convoy members were arriving at Al Arish and getting out of their vehicles, this leads me to believe they interviewed several people, although the text message does not say how many others.)

Short update. Latest text message is that the convoy will stop overnight at Al Arish and go to the Border in the Morning. Anything new I will post it here. So for now it looks like they will finally and hopefully enter Gaza tomorrow.
14:54 Dublin Time:

Only a little bit of news to tell on this latest update. I received another phone call 15 minutes ago; and the convoy is just entering the Sinai desert. I am told that the mobile phone signals are not that great until they get closer to Rafah. The plan, so far, remains the same. They are still planning to travel directly to the border, no stopping overnight. But, that could change depending on how late it gets. Oh, I just got a text message as I was typing this post, it says "200km to Rafah" so that's the latest.

updated x1
Good morning everyone:

It's moving quickly now. Was just on the phone with one of my friends when the buses arrived to pick up the members and take them to the convoy vehicles at the port. So they will arrive at the port very soon and then the members will drive the vehicles loaded with the medical aid to the Rafah border.

The convoy will be accompanied by Egyptian security who will see them to the border. Once at the border they will have to clear inspection and passport control, then enter Gaza. This could take a bit of time as there are many others waiting for entry ahead of the convoy, or, the convoy could be put right through quickly. We will see what happens later today.

I expect many updates today as we monitor the progress to the border and crossing into Gaza. Additionally when my friends are able to get online I will have photos as well. The updates will be numbered from #1 (this one now) up to how ever many I get until the day ends and the convoy retires for the night.

UPDATE x1
just want to add this small update to what was said above. My friend just rang me again and said that the buses just took the drivers and will be right back for the rest of the members. So whilst they were waiting my friend went to go online to send me some information, and surprise, the Internet was not available. Which, I find "odd" as this Internet location has been being used by both of my friends for several days now. What this means is that I will have to rely on phonecalls only form this point on until they are able to get online inside Gaza. I expect several phonecalls throughout the day and Will post them when I get them.

I just had this emailed to me:
Press Update
Convoy of Hope for Gaza
European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza

Friday 22nd May 2009

On Friday morning the 22nd May, the members of the Hope for Gaza Convoy organised by the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG) are making final preparations in Port Said for the departure of the convoy for Al Areesh and Al Rafah.

The organisers gathered the delegation into groups in order to consult on urgent procedural matters and to review current progress.
There have been numerous delays since the cargo arrived in Alexandria on Saturday last. Since then the organisers have been awaiting the arrival of a ship in Alexandria to take the medicines and medical equipment to Port Said where it will leave by road for the border crossing at Al Rafah.

Parliamentarians and other elected officials from Europe contacted the Foreign Ministry to clarify outstanding matters and to seek assurances of co-operation from the Egyptian authorities.

Convoy Leader, Senator Fernando Rossi, from Italy said:
“The Foreign Ministry have pledged their support for the humanitarian aims of the convoy to relieve the suffering of innocent men, women and children in Gaza.”
“They have assured us that they will facilitate our travel to Al Areesh and Al Rafah and permit the convoy to cross the border into Gaza once the ship arrives in Port Said. The ship has now picked up its cargo and is en route to Port Said”
Deputy leader of the convoy, Councillor Gerry MacLochlainn from Ireland, said:
“There have been a number of delays to the convoy since we arrived and delegates are becoming frustrated and concerned. This is understandable as many have collected and saved considerable sums of money to bring this aid to Gaza and they are keen to see it delivered.

“The news that the ship in on its way to Port Said and that we will soon be on the final leg of our journey to Gaza has been an enormous relief to many people.”
“This medicine and the medical equipment is needed urgently in Gaza and there are people who will die if this material is not delivered. We cannot allow this to happen when these medicines and the medical equipment is so close.

“We are confident that that this will happen with the full co-operation of the authorities here.”

ENDS
 Note:  They will have to get through customs and passport security at the border, so we don't know what that will entail. Additionally, if either one of my contacts are able to get online tonight I should have some photos of the convoy as well.  I may be very busy trying to keep up with everything tomorrow as they arrive at the Rafah crossing and whatever problems may be associated with that. So I cannot promise to cross post everything here all day long, but anyone interested in keeping totally up to date is very welcomed to visit my blog tomorrow to monitor the situation until they get through. Or if anyone from here wants to copy and paste the updates from my blog to here, that is fine with me.
 
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