Palestinians in Libya leave for Gaza

Published March 21, 2011

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Thirty-four Palestinians waiting at the Libya border for permission to travel to Cairo and return to the Gaza Strip were granted travel visas Sunday, an official said.

Though directives were given to issue the visas one week earlier, Palestinians in Libya remained stranded at the border for days.

Muhammad Hammad, the cultural official in the Palestinian Consulate in Libya, said the Palestinian consulate in Cairo cooperated with the Egyptian security forces and secured permission for them to cross the border.

Some of the Palestinians awaiting transport, he added, were women holding Palestinian passports but without identity papers allowing them to live in the West Bank or Gaza. Information on their relatives and all past documentation had to be collected in order for the visas to be processed, he said.

The group was issued visas after Egyptian officials gave the okay to allow Palestinians with relatives who have Gaza ID cards to travel out of Libya, which remains in a state of turmoil.

The Palestinian Consul in Libya Jamal Al-Jamal said he was personally following up on the group of Palestinians at the border, and said the window was open for all those Palestinians seeking to leave the country to apply for exit permits for Gaza.

Fresh attacks by Western forces on Libya flattened a building in leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound on Monday, under UN-led strikes aimed at enforcing a no-fly zone in the country in an effort to halt Gadhafi’s forces brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels.

Britain said on Monday it had aborted one strike because of the presence of civilians.

The second night of Operation Odyssey Dawn again saw strikes by aircraft and cruise missiles.

Meanwhile Gadhafi’s forces pulled back from the rebel capital of Benghazi after fierce attacks by coalition aircraft.

As warplanes took off from Italian bases and anti-aircraft guns roared in the Libyan capital, Gadhafi’s army announced a new ceasefire late Sunday, but the United States promptly accused Tripoli of lying or of breaching the truce immediately.

And United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a swift reaction: “I sincerely hope and urge the Libyan authorities to keep their word.”

AFP contributed to this report


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