Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law Trapped in Gaza

I regret that “Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law” will garner more hits than “Lauren Booth,” but what can you do. Anyway, from Haaretz:

Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, who arrived in Gaza with a boatload of activists protesting an Israeli blockade last month, said Tuesday she was stranded because both Israel and Egypt had denied her entry.

Lauren Booth, sister of the former British prime minister’s wife Cherie, revealed her predicament as Blair visited the region to further Western-backed efforts to achieve a limited Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Booth was one of 44 foreign “Free Gaza” activists who set sail from Cyprus, docking in Gaza last month, and was one of 10 who remained when the others sailed back to Cyprus on Friday.

Israel allowed the activists to dock in Gaza on August 23 despite its blockade of the coastal territory since Hamas Islamists, who oppose Israel’s existence, seized control last year.

Booth said she has tried unsuccessfully over the past few days to leave through Gaza’s land crossings with Israel and Egypt.

“I tried through the proper channels, through the United Kingdom’s embassy, but I was told I was not allowed to come through,” she said after trying in vain to enter Israel.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Peter Lerner, confirmed Israel had denied Booth entry, saying there was a policy of refusing entry to anyone from Gaza who did not get there via Israel.

“There is no possibility to let in those people who entered by the sea. They cannot enter Israel,” Lerner said.

If this won’t make the international news, then I don’t know what will. I’m sure she’ll be granted entry to either Israel or Egypt within days, but this highlights the absurdity of the Gaza blockade. Why exactly can’t any single person exit Gaza if they didn’t come from Israel? Is this about security, or is it nothing more than a massive grudge?

Note that Egypt is also culpable here. Booth claims that she “heard through contacts Egypt was under pressure from Israel to act that way,” but Egypt is still a free agent, and I’m not sure what the consequences would be if they let her through. (Also, I need more evidence than “contacts” before I’m convinced.)

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