Coventry candles banned from Gaza

February 16, 2009

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PLANS to take 600,000 candles from Coventry to Gaza have been scuppered after claims they could be used to make bombs.

City restaurateur Manal Timraz had planned to take the candles into the war-torn region on Saturday.

Ms Timraz, who runs Habibi in Far Gosford Street, organised the campaign after 15 members of her family were killed in the recent conflict.

But a public meeting in Earl Street heard that Ms Timraz was stopped by Israeli border control.

One hundred campaign supporters lit candles and listened as Jews for Justice member Barbara Payman (pictured top right) relayed a live phone call from Ms Timraz in Hebron.

She said: “We were about one hour away from entering the area to lead us to Gaza when we were told we would be arrested.

“Our candles were stopped too because Israel now claims that wax is added to the list of the many things that can’t enter Gaza.

“They say this is because it might be used for explosives.

“I’m not a scientist but my mind tells me that wax is much weaker than being used to explode, because it melts.”

Ms Timraz collected the candles – including one from Gordon Brown – in six weeks.

She also collected blankets, clothes and blankets for residents of Gaza.
The plan had been to hold a candle lit vigil in Gaza and then leave the candles to use in the event of power cuts.

Ms Timraz (pictured bottom right) told the meeting a vigil was held in nearby Hebron instead with 15,000 children.

She said: “The city was crowded and everyone had hope in their hearts and a candle in their hands.

“Our people in Gaza didn’t have candles but people went into homes that had been bombed, gathered wood and made bonfires in the rubble.

“We’ve made our point.”

The group from Coventry will continue to apply for permission to enter Gaza.

A spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London said he did not know of every change in policy on what was allowed into Gaza.

But he added: “What I know in general is that when international aid comes from outside it should be coordinated through the UN.

“Israel cooperates to the satisfaction of the UN in order to supply the Gaza people with what they need.”

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