Members of the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta Jewish sect celebrated the Jewish Sabbath in Gaza City on Saturday, after having entered the besieged Gaza Strip as part of a solidarity caravan in support of the Palestinian people suffering under Israeli occupation.Neturei Karta is an Orthodox Jewish group that believes only the Messiah can create the state of Israel, and that the creation of the state on Palestinian land in 1948 was against Jewish holy law. The group is small, counting several thousand members, mainly in the US and Europe.

Members of the group were welcomed into the predominantly Muslim Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian government led by the Hamas party (which was elected to power in 2006) reiterated that they are not opposed to Jewish people, but to the policies of the state of Israel.

Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of New York told reporters, ‘It’s crucial that the people of Gaza understand the terrible tragedy here is not in the name of Judaism.”

He was referring to the ‘tragedy’ of the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip one year ago which lasted for three weeks and resulted in over 1400 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces (the vast majority of whom were not involved in any resistance), and 5 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinian fighters.

The four members of Neturei Karta entered Gaza along with around 100 other international supporters of the people of Gaza to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Israeli invasion. Over 1200 others were prevented by the Egyptian government from entering Gaza.