Derry councillor joins delegation in Gaza

Sinn F�in councillor Gerry MacLochlainn, right, pictured in Gaza this week with West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann, left. (2511MM30)
Sinn F�in councillor Gerry MacLochlainn, right, pictured in Gaza this week with West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann, left. (2511MM30)

Derry Sinn Féin councillor Gerry MacLochlainn is in Gaza this week visiting refugee camps as part of an international delegation.

The delegation is made up of more than 100 people from across the world and includes West Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann and former Labour MP, Clare Short.

Colr. MacLochlainn has visited Gaza on a number of occasions and earlier this year was part of a ‘freedom flotilla’ which attempted to break the Israeli blockade to bring medical supplies to the Palestinian people.

Speaking from Gaza on Wednesday, the Northland colr. said: “We arrived in Gaza late on Monday night following a long wait at the Egyptian border. They gave us a really wonderful welcome when we crossed over into Gaza. There’s over 100 people from all over the world on this delegation.”

Colr. MacLochlainn said he met children who have been wounded in Gaza. “We visited the health facility for wounded children who have lost limbs in bombings; we saw one young girl just 10 years-old who had been shot. We then went through Baitlahia, an area totally devastated in the bombings of December 2008.

“This is where whole families were wiped out in a single attack, and where the UN school was bombed. We visited the makeshift homes in one of the refugee camps and the conditions over 130,000 people are living in are atrocious, seven people all living in one or two tiny rooms.

“They cannot rebuild any of the houses that were bombed as they can’t get access to building materials due to the blockade.” he said.

The Sinn Féin colr. also said he met with Palestinian university students who are continuing their education in spite of the Israeli blockade.

“There were a number of other meetings and presentations with NGOs and leaders of civil society here and we had a reception in the University for applied sciences; the young students have increased in numbers from 300 to 9,000 there .

“The Palestinians are very resilient people. There are students who had gained University places in other countries but can’t go due to the blockade.

“It so very hard to see how people are made to live by the Zionist regime driving them from their homes,” he said.