Violent attack on Viva Palestina convoy

Viva Palestina hurt in riotVideo footage has reached Turkish TV of last night’s attack on Viva Palestina as the convoyers waited to proceed in El-Arish. Videos show activists with head injuries, some having to be carried off. There were reported windows broken on the convoy vehicles. What a travesty if the aid to be delivered to Gaza will arrive in shambles, courtesy of the Egyptians. We won’t know until sunup. Finally the BBC has reported the story, but not what really happened.

The BBC reports, like ABC Australia, that water canon were turned on Viva Palestina because they refused to comply with Egyptian demands. But witnesses tell of a different progression.

(UPDATE: The UK Press Association lists one story, Gaza aid Brits ‘beaten by police’, where the headline infers an unverified accusation, and still no mention made of “Viva Palestina” in entire text.)

The Irish 4 Palestine blog is maintained based on regular phone and text updates from “their boys” in the convoy. In the thick of the ugliness last night, communications ceased. Then strange voices answered the phones, which had been found dropped on the ground. Finally one phone was answered by an English-speaking woman named Pat who described the attack:

“…the whole thing happened when convoy members were still locked inside this gated compound, then suddenly a very large group of plain clothes “people” arrived at the compound with sticks and stones, they were then allowed into the compound by the Egyptians and began attacking the convoy members trapped inside with nowhere to go. The Egyptians then joined in the attack when the plain clothes vigilantes arrived and went inside to attack.”

Her account was corroborated by ensuing witnesses. What may have motivated the vigilantes is open to conjecture, because we’re led to believe the aid convoy usually met a warm welcome throughout the region.

Malaysian activist Juana Jaafar was providing live play by play and occasional pics throughout the night. Her observations early on may offer one angle:

The gates have been blocked by authorities’ cars and hundreds of riot police waiting outside! Members are getting anxious

Riot cops! And a water cannon truck just arrived. Dejavu ke? Okay damn, a water tank size of 16 wheel petroleum carrier just arrived.

Members sitting at gates … I don’t understand Arabic but I know stuff being said bout “Yahudi” and am feeling uncomfortable. There are Jews in and supporting our mission …

Shit la the jangguts nak tunjuk hero pulak. Bangang ah!

Anti-Semitism is a subject no one wants to mention in polite company, perhaps because it the accusation is so frequently invoked by Israel. In accounts of peace activism in the Middle East, frequently however we read reports of Arab bystanders showing solidarity with peace actions, but declining to join in if there happen to be Jewish activists among the organizers, regardless the cause, even the anti-Zionist ones.

In this case, were the Egyptian police trying to play up the presence of Jewish activists in order to motive the plain-cloths agitators among them to throw stones?

The longer (abridged) sequence of Tweets from Juana Jaafar recounts the night’s adventure.

8PM
Yay! All members are together now as last batch rolls in! We going by the minute now. Autho may impose all sorts on new rules on us like drive in the mid of night so public can’t see us; no fanfare. Some say they may not let all vehicles out so looks like convoy is small.

But rumor has it there’s pizza in the Welsh caravan so am gonna head there :]

The gates have been blocked by autho cars and hundreds of riot police waiting outside! Members are getting anxious

Riot cops! And a water cannon truck just arrived. Dejavu ke?

Okay damn, a water tank size of 16 wheel petroleum carrier just arrived.

9PM
Members sitting at gates. Someone leading a doa. Doa man crying while doa. I don’t understand Arabic but I know stuff being said bout “Yahudi” and am feeling uncomfortable. There are Jews in and supporting our mission …

Shit la the jangguts nak tunjuk hero pulak. Bangang ah!

Standoff with autho in El-Arish port

We have been told there are protests going on right now in Istanbul, London, Chicago and at Egyptian ambassies elsewhere

11PM  
All hell has broken lose at the port. Shit flying around and police spraying and gassing. We’re in the gates

12PM  
Instigators started moving in from within the police lines and moved on the inside of the police side of the barricades. Convoy members were sitting on the ground when shouts from police lines started and then wham, hell. Just helped bandage a friend’s head

Some people are missing including a Malaysian student who came on his own from the UK. We are trying to find him. He may be arrested

Wisma, a Malaysian student has been detained by Egypt police in El-Arish. Please help.

Calm now. Galloway speaking to us, explicitly named Egyptian regime as instigator of violence. Said now the world can see who is responsible for Gaza siege. We have bend over backwards to come to El-Arish cause Egypt said we’d be welcomed here, instead welcomed with violence.

Galloway says Viva has video taken from meeting room to show special police starting violence. Police then threw stones at meeting room
    
1AM
Arrested are from Great Britain, USA, Malaysia and Kuwaiti.

One person just got rolled out on a stretcher.

2AM
Things are quiet now. Injured are reluctant to be taken to hospital unless Galloway guarantees Egyptian authorities gives safe passage.

4AM
It’s 415am here. We been camping in our vehicles. Some took refuge in the mosque. Riot police still outside gate + 3 water cannon trucks

Calm now but the mood is shit. Some members also not happy how few others reacted to Egyptian provocation saying we have driven this far in peace.

We’re okay, safe. But freezing. Hope things look better in morn

5AM
For the record: Malaysian boy detained only taking pix at the gates, not involved any other way. Our group mate from Great Britain detained was also just filming

7 thoughts on “Violent attack on Viva Palestina convoy

  1. AvatarJuana Jaafar

    dear Editor,

    you need to follow my complete Tweet on the journey to understand my 9PM Tweet referring to “Yahudi”.

    it was not a statement of anti-semitism. i was CONCERNED about anti-semitism. i hope you and your readers do not take me out of context.

    the Viva Palestina convoy did indeed have Jewish participants and supporters and i am PROUD to have travelled with them in our mission to break Israel’s siege on Gaza.

  2. EricEric

    Dear Juana, we were following your journey via tweets, GREAT JOB ALL and THANK YOU!

    There was no accusation of anti-Semitism within VP — I was trying to mirror your concern that Egyptian authorities could be using Anti-Semitism to motivate troublemakers.

  3. AvatarBrother Jonah

    Just from the usage, I would bet

    Shit la the jangguts nak tunjuk hero pulak. Bangang ah!

    Would translate to “Holy Fuck things are going to hell fast!”

    But that’s just a guess.

  4. AvatarGary

    WHEN WILL WE AMERICANS STOP PERSECUTING MUSLIMS AND THE PALESTINIANS BY AIDING ISRAEL’S REIGN OF TERROR?

  5. AvatarBrother Jonah

    About the same time we stop allowing our government to subsidize Really Big Biznezz by sending money, arms and blood to kill people on the behalf of the Richest. When the poorest is actually acknowledged as being a Man equal to the richest.

    To the top money, God is just a concept they can use to get people to do their bidding.

    Maybe when the Richest actually have to risk their own blood for the procurement and securing of their wealth.

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