Monday, 4 March 2013

Returning to Gaza

This month I'm returning to Gaza with Skatejam, an organisation that constructs skateboard half pipes.  We have an invitation from Emaar Association for Rehabilitation and Development in Khan Younis to deliver the project for two weeks at the Al Amar Sports Club.  We received a formal invitation almost a month ago but the siege of Gaza is still effectively upheld on the Egyptian side of the border and we are stuck here in Cairo.  We will get in eventually but it is a slow and unpredictable process which makes planning and timing very difficult.  It's the expected and unnatural situation that people in Gaza live under permanently.
Delays on access from the Egyptian authorities is another facet of the siege. If you wish to visit Gaza you need a letter of invitation from an NGO in Gaza and an Egyptian security clearance letter, otherwise the Egyptian side of the border won't let you out.  The siege is upheld by the British Embassy as well as the Egyptian authorities because even though the Palestinian side have invited us the border crossing is restricted by Egyptian permissions and the British Embassy who could provide us with a supporting letter but refuse to do so.
It's been rumoured that it is easier to cross under the new Morsi administration, but the process appears to be just as slow as before.
Nevertheless there are four of us here and we're waiting until we get in.

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