Archive for February 28th, 2012

‘Gaza convoy foils Israeli blockade’

Mon Aug 29, 2011

Interview with Sheikh Walid El Saadi, leader of the Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy, from Gaza.

The Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy has bypassed the Israeli blockade and reached the Gaza Strip where they are giving aid and supplies to the oppressed Palestinians.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Sheikh Walid El Saadi, leader of the Africa to Gaza Aid Convoy, tells us about his 60-day journey across rough African terrain to reach the impoverished Palestinians in Gaza.

Press TV: You arrived in yet another difficult time for Gaza, but can you tell me the feeling for your African convoy about being there now?

El Saadi: Indeed. Successfully yesterday, thanks God, we arrived in Gaza last night after a long journey. Sixty days driving from the city of Durban in South Africa right through Africa to Al Arish, to Egypt where we had a little bit of difficulty to cross last night because it was late and Gaza wasn’t safe – they said it was being bombed. But we insisted that we will come inside Gaza, yesterday, even if the Israelis are bombing.

It was ten o’clock in the evening that we were in Gaza, thanks God, and the Gaza people received us in such a way that you cannot believe it. Our hearts were crying. Happiness by entering Gaza, successfully, completing our mission which started on June 26 and ended on August 26, today. Sixty days on the road.

It’s a good feeling for my team, the 20 of us, and the team who joined us from Sudan, also, the 16 of them. So, we were 36 members in the convoy, all of us shouting “God is Great”, “Praise to God”, “Glorious is God,” honor us to enter Gaza after 60 days of driving through Africa, the most challenging roads, and to deliver the aid which we were carrying.

But the most important part of our trip was to conscientize Africa about what’s happening in Gaza, what’s happening in Palestine, the Holy Land.

Press TV: What is your aim now that you’re there for the 36 of you? Are you staying with families there? Do you have some specific activities you hope to do in Gaza?

El Saadi: Sure. Today, because it’s a Friday, we have met most of the organization leaders and we have Friday Jummah Salat [prayers]. And this evening is a big night, as you know, which is the 27th day of Ramadan.

From today until the last day of Ramadan, everyday in Ramadan, we’ll have three tables of Iftar, each table with 300 people. We’re going to split up, the 36 of us, to three groups with every group in a different table of Iftar.

Then we will have aid baskets distributed, about 2,500 of them. Then we will distribute the aid which we’ve been carrying with us which is medicine, wheelchairs, medical mattresses, milk powder for children, sweets for children, stationary, seven of our ambulances, and three trucks to give to the municipality of Gaza, God willing.

We hope to have the Eid celebration with the people of Gaza, it would be a pleasure to have it, God willing, but it depends on how the program will go.

Press TV: We wish you safety and congratulate you on a successful mission. I know that you’ll be looked after well by the people of Gaza. Thank you very much.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/196296.html.

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Syrian activists warn against taking up arms

August 29, 2011 — BEIRUT (AP) — Syrians should not take up arms in their uprising against President Bashar Assad or invite foreign military action like the intervention that helped topple the government of Libya, a prominent activist group warned Monday.

There have been scattered reports of some Syrians using automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised weapons to repel government troops, but there appears to have been no organized armed resistance to Assad during the five-month uprising.

Calls to launch such a resistance have been rare, but they were more widely reported than usual by witnesses at protests in Syria on Friday, at the end of a week that saw Tripoli fall to rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi with the help of NATO.

“While we understand the motivation to take up arms or call for military intervention, we specifically reject this position,” said a statement emailed by the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group with a wide network of sources on the ground across Syria. “Militarization would … erode the moral superiority that has characterized the revolution since its beginning.”

The prime minister of Turkey, a former close ally, warned Assad that his regime could face a demise like those in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya if the violent suppression of protests does not stop. The comments were some of the bluntest warnings yet and were particularly biting because they came from a leader whose government had extensive diplomatic ties with Syria.

“The only way out is to immediately silence arms and to listen to the people’s demands,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking in his monthly address aired on Turkish TV late Sunday. “We have been watching the fate of those who did not chose this path in the past few months in Tunisia, in Egypt — and now in Libya — as a warning and with sadness.”

Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprising in March. Witnesses and activists said the crackdown continued Monday as Syrian security forces pursuing anti-government protesters stormed several towns and villages, killing at least six people — including a child — and wounding many others during raids and house-to-house searches.

The largest operation appeared to be in Sarameen in the northern Idlib province, where the London-based Observatory for Human Rights said five people were killed and more than 60 wounded. One person also died during raids in Qara, a suburb of the capital, Damascus.

Similar raids were reported in the village of Heet near the border with Lebanon, along with a military buildup just outside the central town of Rastan, which has become a hotbed of dissent against Assad.

The Syrian government has placed severe restrictions on the media and expelled foreign reporters, making it nearly impossible to independently verify witness accounts. Syria’s opposition has no clear leadership or platform beyond the demands for more freedom and for Assad to step down, and several attempts to form a national council have failed because of disagreements between opposition figures, and in particular, divisions between the opposition inside and outside Syria.

In a sign of just how fragmented the opposition is, a relatively unknown dissident Monday announced the formation of a 94-member national council. The announcement, made in Ankara, Turkey, was greeted with excitement on social networking sites — but the celebrations were premature. Several opposition figures whose names appeared on the list told The Associated Press they had not been consulted.

Meanwhile, in New York, Security Council ambassadors met behind closed doors Monday to discuss rival U.N. resolutions on Syria. Russia introduced a resolution Friday that called for Assad’s government to halt its violence against protesters and expedite reforms, but it made no mention of the sanctions sought by the U.S. and European nations in draft resolution circulated earlier this month.

Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private, said afterwards that it was a useful and constructive session and all 15 council members agreed on the necessity of adopting a resolution. Council members will continue discussing what should be included in the resolution, the diplomats said.

After months of deadlock, the Security Council finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria on Aug. 3, condemning Assad’s forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations in a weaker presidential statement. It called on Syrian authorities to immediately end all violence and launch an inclusive political process.

Associated Press writers Zeina Karam in Beirut, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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