Monday, December 28, 2009

Detroit News Article: Two Metro women fly to Gaza for protest
December 28, 2009

Two Metro women fly to Gaza for protest

The Detroit News

Fraser -- After enjoying dinner with her family, Dorothy Ritter* hopped on a plane Christmas Day and flew halfway around the world to take part in a political cause close to her heart.

Ritter had hoped to travel to the Gaza Strip for a peaceful demonstration against the blockade of the territory, home to 1.5 million people. The blockade of people and goods, by Israel and Egypt, has been in place since 2007.

There, Ritter, 54, and more than 1,000 others from around the world were to join Palestinians in a march from northern Gaza to the Israeli border Thursday.

Fellow peace activist Kim Redigen of Dearborn Heights also planned to join Ritter.

But their good intentions were thwarted Sunday when Michigan peace activists were denied entry to Gaza by the Egyptian government. Negotiations with authorities continued.

"They've been held at bay," Joe Ritter, Dorothy's husband, said Sunday. "It's sad because they hoped to have this cleared up already."

It is Dorothy Ritter's second trip to Gaza in six years. She has been active in peaceful protests as part of the Michigan Peace Team.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas gained control of the region from the Fatah political party in the 2006 elections.

International aid groups say the blockade has created a humanitarian crisis because trucks containing essential supplies such as food and medicine are delayed as much as three months.

Redigan said the issue is not about being "pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli."

"It's simply about being pro-justice," she said.

Richard Nodel, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Bloomfield Hills, said his organization "is sympathetic to the plight and suffering of the people that live in Gaza."

But Nodel blames the Hamas government for tensions that led to the blockade. Israeli officials meet every day with a citizens committee from Gaza to discuss how to meet the humanitarian needs of Gaza residents.
Additional Facts
Supporting Gaza

On Tuesday, local groups will hold a vigil and rally called "Break the Siege" to support Gazans from 5:30-8 p.m. outside the Dearborn City Hall at Michigan Avenue and Schaefer.

© Copyright 2009 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.

*Dorothy Ritter and Kim Redigan are two of the six-member MPT Team to Gaza. They are joined by Yusif Barrakat, Isabella Rowan, Sheri Wander, and Elizabeth Walters.

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