Press Release from Scottish Medical Aid Convoy (Jusice for Palestine) and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
1pm Sunday 8 March 2009
The Scottish convoy taking medical aid to Gaza entered the besieged territory via the Rafah crossing yesterday afternoon with four 7.5 ton trucks, four transit vans, an ambulance and a jeep. The Scots arrived at least half a day ahead of the huge Viva Palestina convoy led by George Galloway.
Bruce Whitehead, a volunteer driver with the convoy, reports that a shell fired by an Israeli tank exploded a few hundred metres from the convoy just before the vehicles entered Gaza.
Abdul Aziz, organiser of the convoy, says that the medical supplies they were carrying have been handed over to the Al-Shafia hospital, the largest in Gaza. Keys to some of the vehicles have also been handed over to the hospital. He describes conditions in the hospital as "desperate", saying that a Manchester doctor working at the hospital had told him that people were dying for the lack of medicines that would cost £10.
But Abdul Aziz takes an upbeat view of the future. He says:
"I hope that a lasting memory for the people of Gaza will be the knowledge that people travelled thousands of miles to bring aid to them, and the knowledge that people care about them."
Saair Yildirim, a driver from Bristol who joined up with the Scots after setting out independently, agreed that the reception in Gaza had been "tremendous." He says he was shocked to see the wreckage of ambulances destroyed by Israeli fire.
Bruce Whitehead adds:
"The welcome we have received from the Hamas Government could not have been better. We travelled through the cold of eastern Europe to the warmth of the Arab world. It's good to have delivered these much-needed medical supplies."