On 5th March, 2014 Mairead Maguire and Ann Patterson, members of the Peace People, N.Ireland were deported from Egypt as they attempted to enter the country in order to join an international delegation of 100 women wishing to visit Gaza via the Egyptian Rafah Border. The women from around the world had been invited by the Women of Gaza to join them on 8th March, International Women’s Day. Only 17 of the 100 women were allowed to enter Egypt and those turned away were given no reason for this decision by the Egyptian Government, who later when challenged, said those refused entry to Egypt had been black-listed. (They gave no criteria for blacklisting the Women.) The Egyptian Government has closed the Rafah Border until Sunday 9th March when it is highly unlikely any of the women will be allowed to cross into Gaza to meet with the women of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid, including solar lights. (6 – 12 hours a day the people is without electricity). On arrival home in Belfast on 5th March, Mairead Maguire appeal to International community to do something to help the people of Gaza get the blockade lifted and support the women of Gaza and their families in their struggle for human rights and freedom. Maguire said:
‘As pacifists and people of peace wishing to visit Gaza to stand in solidarity with the women and their families on International Women’s Day, and support the Palestinians call for the Israeli Government to lift the blockade of Gaza, and uphold human rights and international law, we deeply regret that the Egyptian Government has deported us making it impossible for us to be with the people of Gaza. By such actions such as closing Rafah Border, closing tunnels from Gaza, etc., the Egyptian Government is complicit with the illegal policy of Israeli Government who continues to break the Geneva Convention, by collective punishment of the people of Gaza. Gaza, with a population of l.7 million (mostly youth) has been cut off by Israel, from Palestinians in West Bank and East Bank, with its airport destroyed by Israel, Gaza port closed for over 40 years and borders with Israel and Egypt, open infrequently. They are bombed every few days from the air by Israeli Drone Bombing. Gaza is regarded as the largest open air prison population in the world. Palestinians in Gaza’s call to open the border crossing and end the occupation falls on deaf ears, as US Gov., continues to finance Israeli military occupation, and also funds the Egyptian military, who are the second highest recipient of USA funding, next to Israel. These apartheid/racist Policies of Israel which are causing so much suffering must be changed and on International Women’s Day I would like to appeal to everyone to do something for the Women of Gaza.
Mairead Maguire – Nobel Peace Laureate