Palestinian Contacts, Protests to End Crisis of Stranded Pilgrims
|Sunday, December 30,2007 12:38|
|By Ahmed Fayad|
Atmospheres of worry and concern overshadow the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip due to the ongoing crisis of the 2200 Gaza Strip pilgrims who were stranded in the open sea for hours on their way back from the Holy Lands. While the crisis witnessed a partial breakthrough as Egyptian authorities allowed the ferry carrying the pilgrims to make them disembark in the port of Noweiba to sent them to Al-Arish city near borders with the Strip, it is still unclear whether the pilgrims will enter Gaza through Rafah Crossing from which they left or from Israeli-controlled Karam Abu Salem crossing where Israel demands they undergo a security check.
What added insult to injury was that Egypt refused to allow the pilgrims to cross its soil except after signing a pledge that they enter Gaza through Karam Abu Salem crossing which the pilgrims unanimously reject insisting on returning through Rafah Crossing lest many of them may be detained by Israeli occupation forces? Meanwhile, the Palestinian arena is witnessing increasing movements on political and field levels calling for ending the pilgrims" standoff and securing them a quick return home. At the political level, the ousted government headed by Ismail Haniya holds intensive contacts with all Egyptian and Arab official levels to facilitate the pilgrims entering through Rafah Crossing. This comes as demonstrations continue on the Palestinian side of Rafah Crossing in response to call of Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), to condemn denying the pilgrims access to Gaza through the crossing.
In this context, Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said in a press conference held in Gaza that Egyptian and Jordanian governments guarantee pilgrims return accusing Israel , US administration and Palestinian government of inciting to prevent the pilgrims from returning through Rafah Crossing. He said that all pilgrims refused to return to the Strip except through Rafah Crossing from which they left to avoid Israeli security harassments.
A serious disaster Abu Zuhri pointed out that maintaining this crisis presage a serious humanitarian disaster targeting safety of the pilgrims due to the severe cold atmospheres and that more than half the pligrims are over 60 years old. For his part, the chairman of the medical committee of the Palestinian pilgrimage delegation, Nasr Al-Tatar said that a big number of pilgrims face very bad health conditions.
He added in a phone call with Aljazeera.net that most pilgrims suffer from chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases and renal failure, pointing out that the pilgrim"s long journey of thousands of kilometres in addition to returning from pilgrimage added insult to injury in their health conditions. He pointed out that the medical services accompanying pilgrims are limited and can"t handle incurable cases, stressing that severe fatigue and diseases caused many cases of nervous breakdown among the pilgrims.