The Peace Cycle Concludes its Ride and Presents its Guestbook to An-Najah National University

 

A delegation from The Peace Cycle represented by Agnes Vana from Austria and Irshad Patel from UK visited the Public Relations Department of An-Najah National University represented by the Coordinator of the Zajel Youth Exchange Program, Ala Youssef and presented him the Peace Cycle guestbook. This guestbook has been carried throughout the whole ride which the 43 peace cyclists started on Sunday the 6th of August in London.

 

Their awareness raising mission took them through 10 different countries starting from the UK, through France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany, Switzerland, over the Alps into Italy. From Rome they flew to Damascus where they began the Middle Eastern section of their ride visiting several refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Palestine. Up to the moment the ride entered the West Bank, they did not encounter any problems crossing borders, however at King Hussein border crossing, the Peace Cyclists encountered at first hand the Israeli security measures.

 

They waited at the crossing for 8 hours until they were finally allowed to enter the country. The first night was scheduled to be spent in Al Faraa refugee camp where the cyclist had a football match arranged, however they were refused entry at Al Hamra checkpoint.

 

Also on its second day in Palestine, the Peace Cycle was stopped for 7 hours at Al Jalameh checkpoint on its route to Jenin. The cyclists showed great patience even though the IOF were playing dirty tactics. Only two of the cyclist were allowed to use the toilet and when their hosts tried to pass water over the checkpoint they were told to only pass over two bottles otherwise the cyclists would not leave. After 3 days of trying and waiting, The Peace Cycle was finally allowed to enter the West Bank and continue their ride to Jerusalem.

 

The Peace Cycle continued to experience difficulties in the West Bank, and these difficulties ranged from the heat and terrain of the West Bank and constant interference by the Israeli army. The cyclists agree that the most physically demanding day on the ride was crossing Wadi Nar (valley of fire) which is the only possible route to Bethlehem left for Palestinians. The steepness of the valley together with the exhausting midday heat was nothing compared to what they had experienced anywhere else on their ride including the Alps.

 

On route to Jerusalem they visited Qalquilya where most of the cyclists got their first experience of the Apartheid wall. “You can look at all the pictures of the wall but nothing can ever prepare you for when you see it with your own eyes” Agnes expressed. From there the ride continued to Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron before finally completing their journey by praying Friday prayer in Al Aqsa Mosque.

 

 

The Guestbook that was presented to An-Najah University, and will be available on line, consists of messages of support and solidarity written by individuals, groups and politicians that the cyclist met along their epic journey. Irshad commented “An-Najah National University was chosen because we felt that the guestbook should be presented where it would be accessible to the people, and what better people then the students of this university.”

 

Both, Agnes and Irshad, as well as all the other cyclists agree, that the completion of the 2006 Peace Cycle is not the end of their action but with the experience gained and emotions felt it is the beginning of an even bigger effort to work for justice, freedom and peace in Palestine.

 

The Coordinator of Zajel Program received the gift and thanked the Peace Cycle for its efforts. He added “The work done by the cyclist is highly appreciated by us the Palestinian people. We consider the international volunteers as our real brothers and sisters in our struggle for peace and justice.”

 

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