Thursday, 7 March 2013

New challenge to the project

Today we were notified that Skatejam's application to the Egyptian authorities for permission to leave Egypt to travel to Gaza was declined by the security clearance department.  We have been told that the reason is to do with the materials list we submitted.  This is a depressing news because it not only presents a challenge to us for the project but it also confirms that the siege of Gaza from the Egyptian Rafah side is still in place.  Apparently the following items be a security issue:

Skateboard Shoes (USED / SECOND HAND) 3
Sets of skateboard bearings (USED / SECOND HAND) 20
Sets of skateboard wheels (USED / SECOND HAND) 19
Pair of skateboard Trucks (USED / SECOND HAND) 8
Skateboard helmet (USED / SECOND HAND) 1
Set of skateboard hardware (spacers, bushings, pads) 4

So we have told them we don't need to take the materials.   We'll find a way to get the stuff there but will have to wait longer now for team clearance. We did not want to use the tunnels but this decision leaves us with little choice.

The rumoured flexibility on the border under the new administration appears to be just that.

We also went to the British Embassy in Cairo his morning to ask for a reply to our email.  I asked them to please confirm that they had received our communication.  It was almost like asking them to sell their grandmothers.

Me: 'Hi, we're a group that is travelling to Gaza with an invitation from an organisation in Palestine'
Woman on the counter: 'We don't advise travelling to Gaza'
Me: 'I know.  I sent you an email with details about our project asking for a response'
Woman on the counter: 'Ok did you call or email?'
Me: 'I emailed you with all the paperwork'
Woman on the counter: 'When did you send it?'
Me: 'Two days ago'
Woman on the counter: 'Yes we have read it'
Me: 'How do I know you've read it? I need to have evidence that you have received our email so that I can show it to the Egyptian border officers at Rafah who need to know that our consulate are aware of what we are doing and that we waive our consular rights.'  (passed paperwork through hatch)
Woman on the counter (looks at paperwork evidently not recognising it in any way whatsoever):  'We can't provide any letter of support to groups wanting to travel to Gaza'
Me: 'I didn't ask you for that I asked you for a reply to our email to confirm that you have read our information and you know who is going and that we waive our rights'
Woman on the counter: 'Ok we'll send confirmation'
Me: 'You need to mention the names of the people I named in the paperwork, otherwise it will only be confirmed to me'
Woman on the counter: 'Ok we'll do that'
Me: 'It needs to be today because we want to travel'

10 hours later no email from them.

The embassy reception is just like a government office in the UK, same green lino on the stairs, government posters in noticeboards, contract carpet, water cooler, computer in the corner that doesn't connect to any network.  Same parrot fashion response from a person that is careful to make sure they implement the policies in the most conservative way they can 'to cover their backs' in the event of any mistake.


  1. Disgraceful behaviour from the Morsi Government vis a vis Gaza. Not only are they passively complicit in the Siege, but they seem to be actively enforcing it. Quislings... shameful actions of a so-called Muslim Brotherhood party!

  2. Yes Zuber we are surprised at the difficulties.. people suggested the Morsi Government would be more helpful.. it doesn't seem to be so