Derry group get back from Gaza

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A delegation from the Derry Friends of Palestine group have just returned to the city following a week spent in Gaza.

The delegation, which included Sinn Féin councillor Gerry MacLochlainn, his wife, Sinead, and two members of Sinn Féin Republican Youth, met with all the major political groups in Gaza during their visit.

The MacLochlainns became the first westerners to meet Palestinian hunger striker, Hani Shalabi, in Al Quds Hospital, Gaza, and presented her with an Easter lily badge.

The group also met with representatives of Hamas, Fateh, and the PFLP, as well as several non-governmental organisations.

Sinead MacLochlainn delivered a quilt made by Irish women from the Unison trade union to members of a women’s group from Gaza.

The group also visited several refugee camps to see at first hand the conditions many Palestinian people are living in. Mrs MacLochlainn explained that while they were there they attended the funerals of three Palestinian children who died in a fire while attempting to study by candlelight because Israel only allows a limited amount of electricity to be used each day.

The delegation were also given an official reception by the mayor of Khan Younis, a Palestinian city twinned with Derry, and they presented some Derry Chrystal to the mayor.

They also met with Palestinian students to build links with student groups here.