Palestinians welcomed Freedom to Palestine Convoy with hugs. The people of Gaza, who have been living under embargo since 2006, embraced the activists from 17 countries such as Turkey, Britain, the United States, Malaysia, Japan, Belgium, Greece, France, Italy, Jordan, Syria, Indonesia, Ireland, Poland and Sudan. The convoy managed to enter Gaza through Rafah border crossing after two nightmare days in Egypt and was welcomed with flowers.
Gazans waited for the convoy to arrive from Egypt at the border the whole day. Some Palestinians and activists could not hold back tears when the convoy met the Palestinians. Palestinian women wept and children hugged the activists, expressing how deep they have been experiencing embargo.
The participants at the convoy were impressed by the Gaza City and impression was replaced by shock when they visited the places hit in Israeli bombardment. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed and some hospitals were mostly damaged in the bombardment. Most of the damaged buildings remain unrepaired because Israel has imposed embargo on entry of construction materials into Gaza.
On the first day in Gaza, the activists handed in keys of the donated vehicles to Ahmed al-Kurd, the minister of social affairs of Gaza, and medical materials and medication to Bassem Naim, the minister of health. Naim pointed to vital significance of medication and medical materials and thanked the donors.
Activists visit Palestinian parliament
Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas government in Gaza, received convoy participants at his office during the day and addressed them at the Palestinian Parliament building at night. He presented the 500 activists shawls decorated with the Palestinian flag and his personal signature. Most of the activists took souvenir photographs with Haniyeh.
Turkey: the new Ottoman
Haniyeh thanked Turkey in his speech and called it as “the new Ottoman.”
Hamas leader reiterated they would continue fighting and accused Egypt of not comprehending the Palestinian resistance. He said: “We are not only fighting for ourselves but also for Egypt; because if Gaza is defeated, Egypt will be defeated too.”
In defiance of death Haniyeh proclaimed “Let my life be a sacrifice to Islam. My life has no significance when Islam and umma are at question.”
“The people of Gaza have been a target for most brutal attacks and world’s most strict embargo because of a choice based on their free will. There was only one reason behind economic, political and military pressures: to force us to recognize Israel and end resistance. We are telling our people that we will never recognize Israel and resume resisting until the last drop of our blood. The price of this stand will be high, but we will either live freely or die as martyrs. We have many martyrs; Sheikh Ahmad Yassin is one of them,” he added.
Haniyeh thanks Erdoğan
Haniyeh thanked Erdoğan for his stance on the Palestinian question and added: “I am sending my greetings and gratitude to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan with you. Prime Minister gave a historic response to Zionist President at Davos. He had said ‘you are good at technology and weaponry and you are also good at killing children.’ Mr. Erdoğan has become our voice and won hearts of all Palestinians. We began naming our children after Tayyip Erdoğan. The name of Erdoğan has been immortalized in Palestine.”
Hamas leader recalled that the people of Turkey had always been interested in the Palestinian cause, saying “Turkey is the new Ottoman to us. It has always expressed sensitivity over Palestine and is now helping Palestinian people even further. We are grateful to all people of Turkey.”