Thousands of Palestinian men and women including school children and deputy of parliament of the ruling Hamas movement took to main streets in the Gaza Strip Monday, in protest of the ongoing Israeli blockade of the coastal region.
The rally, which began today morning is the largest, since local protests have been widely spread in the besieged Gaza, as the local committee for breaking the siege, launched early this week what it called ‘ a one-week protest’ locally and internationally.
Israel has been enforcing a crippling economic closure on Gaza sine June of last year, when the Islamist Hamas took over the coastal territory amidst a power struggle with Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Speaking to reporters in the rally, Dr.Jamal aL-Khudary, chairman of the committee to break the siege, said ‘ what a fault patients have committed to be denied access to treatment outside Gaza , what a fault the laborers have done to be denied their sources of living’.
Since the Israeli embargo has been imposed, 600 patients who are in need for medication at hospitals outside the Gaza Strip, have been unable to get such a treatment, as 57 percent of total unemployment in the Palestinian territories exist in Gaza.
Mr.s Jamila aL-Shanti, a Hamas MP, and chairman of the women committee at the Palestinian Legislative Council, told the IMEMC ‘ we are here to send out a clear message to the world that we still exist that we are steadfast until the siege comes to an end’.
Another woman, called Om Ahmad, spoke out against the Israeli closure ‘ we call upon the Arab and Islamic nations to stand by us under this crippling situation. We are here to protest against the siege that has denied us the basic rights to live as human beings’.
On both sides of the Salah Eldin main road in the Gaza Strip, school boys and girls, lined up, holding posters , reading ‘ lift the siege, let us live as normal as children’
Demonstrators gathered few hundred meters away from the northern Israeli-controlled checkpoint of Eritz, where a concluding press conference was held by Hamas MP, Yehea Mousa, representing the Hamas-dominated PLC in Gaza.
‘ On behalf of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, I would like to greet all the crowds here, who came from many parts of Gaza to protest the Israeli closure’, Mousa told the congregations near Eritz.
On the Israeli side of the border, the Israeli military beefed up presence as Israeli media reports said Israel was fearing a flooding of Palestinian crowds into the border line, the way they did on January, at the Gaza-Egypt border lines in southern Gaza.
On January23, hundreds of Palestinians flooded into the nearby Egyptian town of aL-Arish to bring in essential supplies like foods, medicines and fuel, been made scarce due to the Israeli blockade.
Monday’s protests come as the Israel-enforced closure has entered its eight months, as in September of last year, the Israeli government declared Gaza a ‘hostile entity’ and began in October a series of punitive measures including fuel supplies cut.
Last Thursday, the EU’s parliament passed a resolution, branding the Israeli actions against Gaza a ‘collective punishment’ and urging Hamas to stop homemade shells fire from Gaza onto nearby Israeli towns, which Israel used as a pretext to impose its measures on the Gaza’s 1.5 million residents.