Background on leading members of Viva Palestina’s fifth convoy to Gaza

Research provided by a reliable source:

Viva Palestina, founded by former British MP George Galloway, is a British charity which has organized numerous convoys to Gaza. Many of its members openly support Hamas. The organization’s fifth convoy has spent the last few weeks traveling through Europe and Turkey, and is currently in Syria. It hopes to receive permission over the next few days to sail to the Egyptian port of El-Arish, and then to cross over into Gaza via Rafah.

Below is background information regarding several of the central figures in Viva Palestina.

  1. 1. George Galloway
  2. 2. Kevin Ovenden
  3. 3. Yvonne Ridley
  4. 4. Zaher Birawi

1) George Galloway– Former British MP, Viva Palestina founder

Hugging Haniyeh, March 2009

  • Support for Hamas

“I personally am about to break the sanctions on the elected government of Palestine… By Allah, we carried a lot of cash here…But I, now, here, on behalf of myself, my sister Yvonne Ridley…are giving three cars and 25,000 pounds in cash to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Here is the money. This is not charity. This is politics.”- Al-Jazeera, March 9, 2009, Gaza

  • Previous support for totalitarian regimes

Soviet Union- “if you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life.”- The Guardian, 16/9/2002

Syria– “Syrian troops in Lebanon maintain stability and protect the country from Israel”. -Lebanon Daily Star, 7/12/2004

Ahmadinejad– “We have to accept Ahmadinejad’s re-election, not least because all our best friends in that region don’t have any elections at all.” –, 15/6/09

  • Refused entry into Canada and Egypt

Canada– On March 20, 2009 refused entry into Canada, after immigration authorities ruled that his involvement and direct financial support to the Viva Palestina movement constituted support for Hamas.

Egypt– on 8 January 2010, Galloway was deported from Egypt immediately upon entry from Gaza. He had been attempting to help take 200 aid trucks into the Gaza Strip. The previous day an Egyptian soldier had been killed during clashes at the border with Hamas loyalists. The Foreign Ministry of Egypt released a statement reading: “George Galloway is considered persona non grata and will not be allowed to enter into Egypt again”.

2) Kevin Ovenden– long-time Galloway assistant, leader of Viva Palestina 5 convoy

Shaking hands with Haniyeh (March 2009?)

  • Ovenden’s description of his March 2009 meeting with Haniyeh-

“And some of us were fortunate enough, privileged enough to meet the democratically elected prime minister of Palestine, Ismail Haniyeh ..I would have liked everybody on the convoy to meet Ismail Haniyeh and the leadership of the government in Gaza..

We met at one of the greatest heroes, greatest leaders that Palestine has ever known, met at his house, Abdul Rantissi, who himself was assassinated.” (video of speech here)

Ovenden with IHH President Bulent Yildirim

More info on Ovenden- here, and here

3) Yvonne Ridley– Journalist, captured by Taliban and later converted to Islam. Important figure in Viva Palestina, though not on the latest convoy.

Al-Quds day rally London, Sept 2008

  • Al-Quds day speech- “The battle for a free Palestine is entering a new phase, one that is much more dangerous, much more violent, much more bloody than before. .

Who remembers that – Hizbullah showed how weak the Zionist army is? Victory to the Hizbullah!…In fact if Hamas stood across the Middle East they would be swept to power. Victory to Hamas!” (video of speech available here)

  • Comparison of Israelis to Nazis-

And that is why one by one, those responsible will one day be charged with war crimes … the evidence is stacking up – Nuremberg would be quite a fitting arena to try the guilty but London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam or Madrid will do.

Like the Nazi and war crime hunters of the past, we must never forgive, never forget and never submit to the demands of morally bankrupt states and politicians. (

4) Zaher Birawi– Spokesman for Viva Palestina 5, Chairman of Palestinian Return Centre board of trustees, and affiliated with numerous other British Muslim organizations.

Send-off of the Mavi Marmara, third from left (dark gray suit, legs crossed)

From the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (

  • Zaher Khaled Hassan Birawi (aka Abu Khaled), 49, is a Hamas activist…who today resides in Britain.
  • During his intensive ongoing activity in Britain, he has been careful not to identify himself publicly with Hamas or even with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to avoid entanglements with the British authorities…However, according to reliable information…he serves as Hamas’ Judea and Samaria representative [in Europe]

Zaher Birawi is chairman of the board of directors of the Palestinian Return Center (PRC), a London-based institution which conducts intensive anti-Israel activity…In our assessment, it is one of the central institutions in Britain through which Hamas operates.

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