The Christian Science Monitor tells today of an international group of over 1,000 activists seeking to enter Gaza via Egypt to deliver supplies to the blockaded region on the anniversary of Israel’s most recent offensive there. Despite coordinating with the Egyptian government in advance, their plans have been impeded:
Much like the humanitarian supplies they were intent on delivering, Gaza Freedom Marchers say they too have been caught in the siege on Gaza. Unable to protest the blockade from within the territory, they have protested it from here. The result has been a tense confrontation between American and European left-wing activism and a repressive police state engaged in a rigorous four-year-long crackdown on critics of the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Medea Benjamin, an American citizen, cofounder of the antiwar group Code Pink, and one of the march organizers, says she and 50 other US nationals were “beaten up” by Egyptian police when they went to the US Embassy in Cairo to attend a previously scheduled meeting with embassy staff on Tuesday morning.
They went to deliver a letter of support from Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts, says Ms. Benjamin, but instead were “dragged, pulled, and manhandled” on the pavement by Egyptian police. The group was then detained inside a pen made of metal fences. Benjamin got away and ultimately met with US diplomats, but other protesters were held for six hours.
“The use of force was unbelievable,” she says.
A later report from the AP says that Egypt ultimately decided to allow 100 of the activists to enter Gaza “in the coming days.” The activist quoted, Medea Benjamin, was the California Green Party‘s 2000 Senate candidate, coming in third that year with 3%.