Israelis, Palestinians to protest Gaza blockade, call for peace

As Israel continues a military assault on Gaza, and rockets from Gaza terrify the bordering Israeli village of Sderot, Israeli peace advocates are organizing a relief convoy and peace demonstration, Jan. 26, at a Gaza border crossing. A parallel Palestinian demonstration will take place on the other side of the border.

In press release, the Israeli groups say, “We sympathize with Sderot’s residents, exposed to traumatizing years-long Qassam rockets, but siege and collective punishment are no answer: although 1.5 million men, women and children are denied basic necessities, driven to the edge of starvation, the Qassam attacks continue.

“Nor has the constant military offensive (1,000 Palestinians were killed in 2007, including many civilians) stopped the rockets. Whilst Sderot suffers, few ask why several Palestinian ceasefire offers have been rejected out of hand by the Israeli government.”

The Israelis declare, “We’ll go to the Gaza border, in cooperation with Palestinian partners inside Gaza, to show there’s a peaceful alternative to siege and rocketfire.”

Israeli participants include Gush Shalom (Peace Now), Coalition of Women for Peace, Combatants for Peace, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, New Profile, Physicians for Human Rights (Israel), Hadash (electoral coalition including Israeli Communist Party), Balad, Adalah, Tarabut-Hithabrut, Bat Shalom, Bat Tzafon, Anarchists Against the Wall, Follow-up Committee of the Arab Population in Israel, Alternative Information Center, Psychoactive, ActiveStills and Student Coalition – Tel Aviv Univ.

Relief convoys will depart from Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva, bearing signs reading “Gaza: Lift the blockade.” At the Gaza border, they will hold a rally at the Erez checkpoint.

Organizers say they will insist that Israeli authorities allow the humanitarian goods to enter Gaza, adding that they are “prepared for prolonged stay near Erez, and a public/judicial campaign.”

The supplies will especially focus on water filters, they say, “since the water of Gaza is an undrinkable cocktail of brine, sewage, pesticides and oil.” Israeli denial of filters to Gazans is “an unacceptable violation of basic humanitarian standards,” they charge.

The Palestinian demonstration is being organized by the Palestinian International Campaign to End the Seige on Gaza, which calls itself “a diverse group of civil society activists, human rights activists, intellectuals, academics, businessmen from Gaza and the West Bank.”

The World Social Forum named Jan. 26 an International Day of Action for peace and social justice, with events scheduled around the world.

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