The Elders have entered the Gaza Strip today via the Rafah crossing from Egypt, after holding talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak.
CORRECTION: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is apparently not with the group in Gaza, but will instead join them later.
Former Irish President Mary Robinson — who subsequently served as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights — is in Gaza as Delegation leader of this group. In her time as High Commissioner, Mary Robinson being driven in a UN vehicle when it was fired upon while touring areas under Israeli control during the height of the second Palestinian intifada.
She noted in a statement today that “I was last here in 2008, just before the Gaza war. The situation has deteriorated to a shocking extent since then. This is not a humanitarian crisis – it is a political crisis and it can be solved politically. It is unconscionable and unacceptable that Israel and the international community have not lifted the blockade fully to allow Gazans to rebuild their lives and be part of the interconnected world that we take for granted. The easing of the blockade may mean more goods can be imported, but people are not free to come and go, reconstruction materials are still highly restricted, there is no real economy to speak of, and I have no doubt that things are not just stagnant – they are going backwards.”