PalFest set for Gaza

The Palestine Festival of Literature (5th—9th May) is set to take place in Gaza for the first time, though organisers said they had yet to receive a response from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a request for travel permits to the area.

PalFest is planning to bring a group of writers, educators and artists through the Rafah crossing from Egypt to perform free public events, run workshops with students and meet civil society leaders in Gaza.

However while the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was scheduled to respond to PalFest's request for visas for Gaza on 29th April, the festival has yet to receive a response.

PalFest producer Omar Robert Hamilton said: "Justice for Palestine was among the most urgent demands of the Arab revolutions. In Egypt, Tahrir called for the Rafah crossing to be opened-yet the movement of people and goods remains severely restricted. PalFest has always worked to forge cultural ties and now, more than ever, regional and global partnerships must be used to place justice for Palestine at the centre of the growing global struggle for justice."

Haidar Eid of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) said: "For the first time, PalFest will conduct activities in besieged Gaza, where Palestinians continue to resist Israel's illegal blockade which has transformed the occupied Gaza Strip into the world's largest prison camp. PalFest is a sign of the growing solidarity across borderes in our struggle against racism and oppression."

A one-day children's literature festival will form part of PalFest 2012, with plans for a larger children's event in the summer.

The festival is also launching a new, bilingual website this week, developed in support of the UK Arts Council, which will profile new literary talent from across Palestine and the diaspora.