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Norwich councillor succeeds with his Palestinian mission

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:13 02 July 2010

Peter Offord

Peter Offord

Sarah Hall

A city councillor who spent Christmas making his way to the Gaza Strip has spoken of how he managed to get to a Palestinian trauma centre to deliver art materials and donations from the people of Norwich.

A city councillor who spent Christmas making his way to the Gaza Strip has spoken of how he managed to get to a Palestinian trauma centre to deliver art materials and donations from the people of Norwich.

Peter Offord, Green county councillor for Thorpe Hamlet, set off before Christmas to join the Gaza Freedom March, a 1,000-strong international delegation calling for the borders to be re-opened to let in humanitarian aid and mark the first anniversary of a conflict with Israel, which saw more than 1,400 people killed.

The 62-year-old feared his mission had stalled when he was among a group of 30 activists detained in their hotel in the Egyptian city of El-Arish, about 40km away from the Gaza Strip.

But his supporters received a phone call on New Year's Eve saying he had made it to the border and today he contacted the Evening News to confirm he had made it to Gaza's newly set up Palestine Trauma Centre.

Mr Offord, a qualified art therapist, said he had been able to visit the centre on Saturday after negotiating an extension of his departure time plans to visit centre.

He said of a field visit to a gutted building: “I witnessed art therapy group in which six to eight year olds drew pictures and then told their individual stories mainly of loss within their families.

“Each child was given the opportunity to stand up and speak about their experiences and then rewarded by applause for their courage in speaking about this.”

He departed back for Cairo later on Saturday, accompanied by security services and an armed forced guard.

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