Second Letter: December 27-28
The first day in
In the morning, about a hundred people brought flowers, ribbons and poems to leave on the Kasr el Nil Bridge that spans the
We planned another action for the early evening: An ancient type of sail boat called a felucca has plied the
Months ago, March organizers had obtained a permit for our entire group to meet in a church in downtown
In the meantime, a group of about 200 French people gathered at the French Embassy, where they were originally supposed to board buses to take them to the border. But the government prohibited the bus companies from transporting anyone from the Gaza Freedom March, and so the French mounted a protest in front of the Embassy. First, they lay down in the street—a major thoroughfare—and kept the street for about five hours. The French Ambassador, supportive of the protesters, negotiated with the police, and subsequently the group moved onto the sidewalk where they set up tents and spent the night. Over twenty-four hours later, they are still there. I went to the Embassy this morning to see the protest and found a double row of police in riot gear lining the entire block, with the French group inside the police line. Some 20 paddy wagons were parked across the street. I believe that the French protesters will stay camped out there for a long time, unless they are arrested.
We were all supposed to go to
This afternoon, all of us except the French gathered on the plaza outside the offices of the United Nations. We chanted, waved signs, and planned next steps, encircled by police, for five hours. Several people initiated a hunger strike, including one 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Heddy Epstein. While we waited outside, three of the March organizers negotiated with UN representatives inside, to see if the UN could persuade the Egyptian government to allow us into Gaza—or even allow some of us in—and to allow in the humanitarian aid we had brought with us. But these talks were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, six Germans attempted to get to the border via public transportation, but their bus was stopped at a checkpoint and they were taken off and detained. The bus, full of Egyptians, was held up for seven hours as the police sorted out what to do. The Germans reported that the Egyptian people on the bus were incredibly kind and appreciative, even though they had been greatly inconvenienced by the seven-hour delay. Finally, the Germans were put on another bus and returned to
Tomorrow, we Americans will go to the American Embassy to urge the
We are determined to break the siege. The situation of the people of