Posted by: Lister | February 24, 2008

Human Chain Protest on Gaza-Israel border

Israel girds for 40,000-strong Gazan human chain:

Some 40,000 Palestinians are expected to march along the Gaza Strip’s border beginning at 10 A.M. on Monday in protest of Israel’s economic embargo on the coastal territory, Israeli intelligence officials warned Sunday.

The head of the Palestinian Popular Anti-Siege Committee protest, Jamal al-Khudary, said: “We do not have intentions of approaching the fence, either in the north or the south. We hope all the participants will abide by the instructions and we will try to prevent any violations.”

He also said the protesters would not try to confront IDF troops.

[…] If necessary, IDF artillery will fire warning shots at open areas, and should the protestors continue their advance, troops will employ riot dispersal methods. As a last resort, snipers will open fire at protestors legs. The orders were approved by senior General Staff officers as well as Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The border with Egypt is currently closed, Hamas is in talks with Egypt.

And the mayor of Sderot has offered to talk to Hamas:

“I would say to Hamas, let’s have a ceasefire, let’s stop the rockets for the next 10 years and we will see what happens,” said Eli Moyal, the mayor, who is a member of the rightwing Likud party. “For me as a person the most important thing is life and I’m ready to do everything for that. I’m ready to talk to the devil.”

Last week a child lost a leg in a rocket attack on Sderot. Moyal’s first response was to call for the assassination of the Hamas leadership and for Gaza villages to be razed. But now he is ready for a different tactic. His call for talks comes as Israel’s blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip is under international pressure.

Senior UN officials agree in private that a political deal with Hamas will be necessary to end the rocket attacks on Sderot. Without a political solution or a ceasefire, “it’s quite hard to see how it’s going to change in the future except that possibly it will get worse,” one official said.

Over the past two months an average of 50 rockets a week have landed in Sderot, more than double the weekly average in 2006 when 946 rockets hit the town.

Since 2001, when Gazan militants first launched makeshift rockets at neighbouring towns in Israel, 12 people have died in such attacks. And there have been increasingly vocal calls for the Israeli military to reinvade Gaza in response. A poll last week showed a majority of Israelis want the military to respond even though many do not believe it will stop the attacks.

[…] Moyal said he was approached by an Israeli intermediary to engage in talks with Hamas in Egypt but the meeting fell through owing to it being “complicated”.

“I believe that if they call me again I will be ready to do it. I will do the best I can to have that meeting,” he added.

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Responses

  1. 5000 Palestinians were at the protest:

    About 5,000 people, many of them schoolchildren and university students, formed a human chain outside the town of Beit Hanun, about six kilometers from the border.

    The crowd hoisted banners in English and Arabic, saying “End the siege of Gaza now,” and “Your siege will not break our will”.

    Smaller demonstrations were held in other towns throughout Gaza.

    After the protest ended, some 2,000 Hamas loyalists marched to a checkpoint several kilometers away from Erez.

    However, Hamas police blocked the main road leading to the Erez checkpoint and called on loyalists to obey the law.

    About 50 youths briefly approached Erez and threw stones and burned tires near the crossing, witnesses said. The army said border police fired in the air and dispersed the crowd.


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