15 June 2010

Gaza comes to Devon

Nihad Taha represents the Dove and Dolphin in Gaza. We could not get to him, so he has come here.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

You may know that Yousef and myself were not permitted to enter Gaza during these last eighteen months. One rule that the Dove and Dolphin was being asked to observe was to have an 'office' in 'Israel'. We would not wish for that and the charity could not afford it.

Yousef, a fellow trustee, was born in East Jerusalem. He is the eldest of four and a materials scientist with a PhD. His mum is a senior nurse at St John's Eye Hospital and she is English. His father, Issa, has Bedou family origins. He made a good living fitting extruded windows until Israeli travel restrictions killed his business.

The purpose of our trip to Gaza was to see the work of the charity, agree future projects and to carry out spot audits of expenditure. It was also to be another sign of our common humanity.

Six months ago we started work on getting Nihad Taha to come here instead. There were several hurdles and some of his paperwork was insufficient for a British visa. There was success at the third attempt. The opening of the Rafah gate by Egypt was the signal for a spirited attempt by him to leave the internment camp which is Gaza. He left Gaza 5 days ago and flew from Cairo the next day. Yousef met him at Heathrow after a little delay with the Border Agency. I learn that a letter from me on Dove and Dolphin paper which explained his work and which asked people to speed his journey was helpful at Rafah, Cairo and Heathrow.

He had a good time in London with Yousef. He relished the orderly traffic and the well behaved people. Sue and I met him at our local Newton Abbot station. A seventy minute delay due to perennial signal failure was but a speck in the difficulties he has faced along with almost all Palestinians.

The Dove and Dolphin flag is flying, the day is fine and soon we will walk out to Haytor quarry to share some tea from a flask. Our business starts in three days when Yousef arrives and it will finish formally with an extraordinary meeting on Sunday.

Please be it that many more people come from Gaza to this country which set the torment of these people in train.