International Activists Protest Against Gaza Siege
both from Gaza and abroad, have held demonstrations on either side of
an Israeli border crossing to the Palestinian territory, protesting
against its continued siege by Israel.
Hundreds of protesters gathered around the Erez crossing on
Thursday, to denounce the blockade that has caused immense suffering to
those living in Gaza.
el-Shamayleh, Al Jazeera's correspondent who was on the Israeli side of
the crossing, estimated that about 600 protesters were present, many
from mainly Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.
"They represent Israeli-Palestinians as well as other Arab civil
society organisations inside Israel and also with the support of some
Israeli groups," she said.
major demand is for Israel to stop the siege on Gaza and to stop the
suffocation of Gazans living under this blockade. They're also calling
on the international community to intervene."
The Gaza Strip has been under Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas seized power in the territory.
The Erez crossing is the main entry and exit point to and from Gaza
used by medical patients, journalists, diplomats and aid groups.
On the Gaza side of the border, the demonstration was slower to get
started, but protesters there were joined by 86 activists from the Gaza
Freedom March, an international group that has been trying to get into
Gaza with food and supplies.
Most of the Gaza Freedom March's 1,300-strong group were refused
entry into Gaza by Egypt, which controls the Rafah crossing point,
because of what Egyptian authorities said was the "sensitive situation"
in the territory.
Many of those remaining in Egypt held separate demonstrations in Cairo.
Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of the
Electronic Intifada website, who was at the Cairo protest, told Al
Jazeera the group had been surrounded by the police.
"I've spoken to some people who were pushed or kicked by police and a few people have [had] their cameras taken away," he said.
"I'd say there are about 200 people here. We had anticipated quite a
few more, but earlier today police barricaded some of the hotels where
we are staying ... I can't tell you how many people have been prevented
from joining us."
A separate aid convoy has also been trying to reach Gaza through Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba.
Lorries from the Viva Palestina convoy began crossing from Jordan into Syria on Thursday.
The events around Gaza coincide with the one-year anniversary of
Israel's devastating 22-day war on Gaza which left about 1,300
Palestinians dead. Thirteen Israelis also died in the conflict.