"Getting to South Africa in time for the Film Festival is as important to me as was putting my feet on the soil of Gaza."
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I was told by a very gracious South African Airlines gate agent that a new law passed by South Africa requiring at least two blank visa pages was strictly enforced and that if they allowed me to fly without the required blank pages, I would be put in jail in South Africa and immediately returned to the US--no questions asked.
I immediately contacted a passport expediter who informed me that the Republic of South Africa is the only country that regulates the number of blank passport pages necessary for admission into the country and that he had just last week dealt with the new law (which took effect in August 2009) for another client. He took my information and my passport in order to obtain a new U.S. passport with only blank pages.
I hope to obtain the new passport today in time to fly to South Africa this afternoon, arrive in Cape Town tomorrow, and participate in the Palestinian Film Festival there. It is my intention to abide by all the rules and regulations governing admission to South Africa because the Palestinian Film Festival is an extremely worthy cause and I want to be there.
Getting to South Africa in time for the Film Festival is as important to me as was putting my feet on the soil of Gaza.
McKinney is most known for her Herculean, though unsuccessful, attempts to enter Gaza by boat. In her first attempt, which took place during Israel's Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military rammed McKinney's boat in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the passengers and crew onboard McKinney's boat, the Dignity, were rescued by Lebanon.
In her second attempt to enter Gaza by boat, McKinney and Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire along with 19 other passengers and crew were hijacked in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea by the Israeli military and taken to Israel where she languished in an Israeli prison for seven days. McKinney finally entered Gaza by land after she joined U.K. Member of Parliament George Galloway's Viva Palestina convoy in Cairo and entered Gaza from Egypt.
McKinney finally arrived in Cape Town on October 1 and will speak at the opening of the Palestinian Film Festival tonight.
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