18 September 2009

36 Hours Later~Rachel Corrie Delegation Inside

"The crossing only took about 36 hours," Craig Corrie, father of slain American activist Rachel Corrie said on entering the Gazan city of Rafah Wednesday afternoon, "that's only one hour per mile."

The delegation's efforts to reach the Strip where they planned to attend the Rachel Corrie Memorial Ramadan Soccer Tournament were stymied Tuesday as Mr and Mrs Corrie, who had contacted both Egyptian and American officials in the Middle East and Washington, attempted to negotiate the inscrutable Egyptian security apparatus. On Tuesday the group were told they would not be allowed into the area where the Corrie's daughter was run down by an armored Israeli bulldozer in 2003.

Craig Corrie's reaction, after "going through the layers of Egyptian bureaucracy" and gaining access to the Strip, was to note that what the delegation "managed to do with a bit of hassle should be a right for all those stranded in Gaza." Managing to get into Gaza as a foreign delegation "is not much of a struggle when you look at what the people around you are going through," he added.

Arriving late in the Strip the Corries and a small delegation of friends and colleagues only had time to drop off the soccer uniforms for the teams they were supposed to see play the day before. "I've been told one of the youth games has been postponed for us," Mr Corrie said, "so it looks like we will get to see at least one game."

The delegation will head to Gaza City where the Corries will reconnect with old friends, who they have made since becoming heavily involved in the Palestinian struggle.

Rachel Corrie was killed on March 2003 while acting as a human shield in front of the home of a Gazan family slated for demolition by Israeli forces. As she stood in front of the home alongside six other activists with the International Solidarity Movement she was fatally injured by the caterpillar tracks of the militarized bulldozer.

This is the family's fourth visit to Gaza. In 2003 and 2006 the family entered the area through Israel's Erez Crossing. In 2008 Israel denied the family entry into the country and the two joined the CODEPINK delegation and entered through Egyptian Rafah.

"As frustrating as the Egyptian bureaucracy was, it is really Israel that is primarily responsible for what is going on in Gaza and at the borders," Mr Corrie reflected, "and though Egypt could and should do more to help Gazans with the siege, it is the world which must make it possible for Gazans to live the lives they deserve." source