The Viva Palestina convoy, carrying aid from London to the besieged population of Gaza, has received an overwhelming welcome from Turkey on its drive through the country.Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, foreign minister, humanitarian minister, and Speaker of the House, received a delegation from the convoy in the Parliament building yesterday (17th). The delegation also visited the Palestinian Embassy in Ankara.

Crowds of people, shouting their support, handing out flowers and waving Palestinian and Turkish flags have lined streets and greeted the convoy throughout its journey through Turkey.

In a historic gesture, Istanbul’s Taksim Square hosted its first demonstration in 30 years for the convoy. Speakers included the British MP, George Galloway.

The convoy, which left London on 6 December with around 80 aid-packed vehicles, has been boosted by a further 62 vehicles donated by the IHH, Turkey’s main humanitarian aid agency.

The President of Turkish Parliament, Sahin received the convoy members.

The representatives of the Viva Palestina convoy had some official visits in Ankara.

They were accepted by the head of Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) Mehmet Ali Sahin, the head of Foreign Affairs Commission in TBMM Murat Mercan, the Head of Human Rights Commission in TBMM Zafer Üskül.

The head of Turkish-Palestinian Solidarity Group between Parliaments Zeyid Aslan was also present during the reception. Mehmet Ali Sahin, the head of Turkish Parliament stated that he was so happy to see that the convoy brings together the people of conscience from USA, Asia and Europe and he added “the most vital trait the humanity needs is to share the pain of others and strive to relief their pains as much as possible”.

Kevin Ovenden, the convoy organiser, said: ‘The reception we’ve had from ordinary Turkish people, from its government, and from the IHH has been absolutely phenomenal. Their support and enthusiasm has boosted the morale of the convoy immeasurably, and their obvious support and love for the people of Gaza has been an inspiration to us. We can’t thank Turkey enough.’

The convoy, which includes ambulances, trucks and vans driven by volunteers from around the world, will now drive through Syria, Jordan and Egypt on its way to Gaza.

It hopes to enter Gaza through the Rafa crossing on 27 December, to deliver its cargo of medical, humanitarian and educational aid on the first anniversary of the day Israel began its three week assault on Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians.

This is the third Viva Palestina convoy to attempt to break Israel’s siege of Gaza this year. It has been organised by the charity, Viva Palestina, and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the UK’s largest organisation campaigning for solidarity with the Palestinian people. The last two convoys were successful in delivering aid.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!
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