A delegation of about 100 Palestinians left Israeli-occupied Gaza on Friday (9 December) to express their support for President Sadat's Middle East peace initiative.
A delegation of about 100 Palestinians left Israeli-occupied Gaza on Friday (9 December) to express their support for President Sadat's Middle East peace initiative. It was led by Shaikh Hashim al-Khuzindar, a local Muslim religious leader and Imam of Gaza. The delegation also included a Bedouin chief, Freih al-Musadar and the Mayor of Deir al-Bala, a village at the southern end of the Gaza Strip. The Mayor, Mr. Azaizi, was one of the nine Palestinian leaders who met Mr. Sadat in the King David Hotel during his visit to Jerusalem last month.
SYNOPSIS: According to a prominent West Bank lawyer, Hussein Shyouki, Palestinians from all parts of the occupied territory have declared support for President Sadat's initiative. They hoped that Arab leaders opposed to his plan would join him in his peace efforts.
The delegation, which included four other Arab lawyers, made an early start for their trip across the Sinai desert to the Egyptian capital.
They were the first travellers from Israel to be allowed across the buffer zone and the Suez Canal.
While the trip was being organised, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation sent word to Gaza that any Palestinian leader who set foot in either Cairo or the Jordanian capital of Amman in present circumstances could be killed.
But the Imam, who joined Mr. Sadat in prayer at Al Aqsa mosque during the President's Jerusalem visit, as well as the Mayor and the Bedouin chief, decided to go to Cairo in defiance of the threat.
The Gazans-some of whom chose the traditional way of crossing the desert entered Egypt after a final examination of heir documents at the United Nations-controlled checkpoint Bravo. They made their first stop at the town of Qantara, which still bears the scars of the last Israeli-Arab war. There, received a warm welcome from the Egyptians who provided them with food before they continued their journey.