The boys have been trying to get this to us, dodgy internet connections are difficult but it's finally here. This update written at 4AM last night Egyptian time:
We are sitting in the Damascus international airport at 4am here. Despite our greatest hopes of flying in from Syria to Egypt, those hopes have been spectacularly shattered once again. The first flight of 120 convoy members that were due to join the aid that had successfully arrived in Al-Arish, departed today at 4pm. We then got on the second flight at 8pm, and all was going to plan for an entry into Gaza tomorrow. Spirits were high, everyone was laughing and the excitement was immense as we were waved off from the Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, Syria. They told us to give their love to family that they not seen in many years, and gave their blessings to a homeland that they were thrown out of. We shook their hands and embedded their messages deep within us. I really believed that we would arrive in Gaza on the 5th (tomorrow), and even Danny and Derek were hopeful they could get the pre-arranged flight home to Ireland on the 6th. After all, these are two family men, with children that have spent 33 days away from a family that are usually used to having them at their side, especially at Christmas.More soon......
However, all these hopes and premonitions were dashed, when our plane had to be diverted to Damascus due to technical problems. We have been here since 0930am and are now just boarding a flight at 6am. Stories are leaking through that our counterparts who had successfully flown into Al_arish earlier, had their passports confiscated and even worse; they were given an exit visa whilst they were only entering the country of Egypt. That’s a hand of welcome from the Egyptians alrite.
So we carry on...more obstacles will appear that’s for sure...and this is just a small insight into the lives of Palestinians that literally stand at checkpoints for hours on a daily basis. We share this suffering with them, and it reassures us that through all this, we will finally meet them and publicise to the world that here is a humble people, broken by a brutal occupation and siege.
We will continue, and hopefully within the next 48 hours, enter Gaza and leave the ambulance and supplies there. I know we have been saying this for a long time, but every time we knock on the door and seem to be let in, they close it shut right in front of us. We keep knocking and we will get in, because it’s not up to the Egyptians or the Israelis to allow or disallow people into the house of the Palestinian.
This is the update from now.. We will join our friends in Al-Arish, and then 2 more flights will transfer the remaining 200 from Syria to Egypt, making us a 500 strong party with 220 vehicles in Egypt by tomorrow afternoon and only 30 kms from the gates of Gaza. God I hope we make it, and so do the other 4 boys. Thanks for your support, and publicising the horror of the brutal siege on Gaza. If we keep this up, then there will be change. We can have trust in this.
good nite, JJ