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End the Siege of Gaza Protest

London, 9th February 2008


BACKGROUND


The Israeli army has closed all border crossings of the Gaza Strip since June 2006. This total siege has created a humanitarian crisis, destroyed the economy and violates the basic human rights of the Palestinian civilian population, particularly the rights to decent living conditions, health and education. A crime is being perpetrated against civilians in Gaza which violates international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.



Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam, in an article titled "The state of Gaza should shame us all" she described her impression of Gaza: "I was in the Gaza Strip a few weeks ago - it is a place of many absurdities. A refugee camp now for three generations, it should feel like a dump for unwanted humanity: but everywhere you go you are impressed by the resilience of people, their deep desire to get on and lead better lives. The world's largest prison, Gaza is often called - but that understates it. At least in a prison, people know more or less how long they are going to be there. Gaza is the world capital of uncertainty, of lives unfulfilled. So much suffering for so many in such a confined space is literally unbearable."[4]



On January 18, 2008. Israel stepped up its collective punishment and hermetically closed all of Gazaís borders, preventing even food, medicine and fuel from entering the Strip. Power cuts, which had been frequent for many months, were extended to 12 hours per day. Due to the electricity shortage, at least 40 percent of Gazans have not had access to running water (which is channeled through electric pumps) for several days and the sewage system has broken down.



Israeli academic at Ben-Gurion University, Neve Gordon, has described the Israeli Siege of Gaza as an "experiment in famine". He says the siege is "not really about the bombardment of Israeli citizens or even about Israelís ongoing efforts to undermine Hamas. It is simply a new draconian strategy aimed at denying the Palestinians their most basic right to self-determination. It is about showing them who is in control, about breaking their backs, so that they lower their expectations and bow down to Israeli demands. The Palestinians understood this and courageously destroyed their prison wall while crying out into the wilderness for international support. Instead of the expected outrage, the only response they received was a weak echo of their own cry for help."[3]



PROTEST


Following the international day of action against the siege of Gaza (26th January 2008) a second protest took place a couple of weeks later on 9th February in London, again in Whitehall opposite Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister. At least a thousand people attended the protest - a good turnout considering it has been announced at such short notice. We gathered at 4pm and went on for a few hours in to the early evening.


"Don't prevent me from my childhood" - remembering the Palestinian children caged and now starved in Gaza. According to "Save the Children" charity more that half the population of Gaza are children.[5]



Several New Zealanders celebrating Waitangi Day (the national day of New Zealand) in Parliament Square joined the protest outside Downing street.



"Stop the killing
Stop the crime
Israel out of Palestine"




A ban on megaphones and amplifiers near Downing street meant is wasn't feasible to have speakers address the crowd as their unaided voice wouldn't be heard over the traffic noise. The law didn't however deter the protesters from chanting loudly to make their presence heard. They were helped by drummers who at one stage even crossed the road to stand against the gates of Downing Street, drumming loudly, before the police intervened.





"72 Palestinians died because of the siege of Gaza from lack of medical drugs in Gaza Hospitals, or were denied access to hospitals outside Gaza". Sadly since the placard was made more have died.. Al Damier - the Palestinian Gaza based association for human rights confirmed that as of 11 Feb 2008 there have been 103 Palestinian patients who have died as a direct result of the Israeli imposed siege on the Gaza strip![6]

Over a hundred people have dies in Gaza as a direct result of the Israeli siege, due to lack of medicine, and lack of access to hospitals outside of Gaza. Their names appeared on placards with details of their deaths, and their names were read out in remembrance.



The names of those who died in Gaza due to lack of medicine as a result of the israeli siege were read out in remembrance



Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, holding placard "End the Siege of Gaza Now!" next to banner "Jews for Justice for Palestinians"



"We Shall Overcome" surrounded by placards with the names of Palestinians who have died as a direct result of the siege of Gaza due to lack of medicine and denial of access to treatment - "Hala Zanoun - 3 months old - Died after not being allowed to leave Gaza for medical treatment"



"Stop Starving the Palestinians"



"End Gaza Siege"
"Nazmi Ashour - 50 years old - Died at Erez checkpoint on 7 November 2007
Was not allowed to leave Gaza for medical treatment"






Demonstrators facing the gated entrance to Downing Street.



Message to UK Prime Minister:
End Gaza Siege
Respect the Palestinian Choice - Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh






Home made poster reads: "Mamma I'm scared why are they doing this?"









The rabbis of the Neturei Karta, the Jewish world's most outspoken critics of Zionism, attended in full force. Since they are forbidden to use transport on the Sabbath they had to make the two-hour journey from Stamford Hill on foot in their Saturday dress of prayer shawls and fur-rimmed hats. Two of the elderly senior Rabbis, one of them 76 years old, also insisted on making the gruelling 7 mile each-way walk, they are not present in the this photo - by the time they completed their journey it was evening (the evening photos below include them).
[ TIP: Next time you are trying to convince someone to come to a demo recall to them the dedication of these elderly rabbis - they will have no excuses left! ]












Protest continues in to the night..

VIDEO



DownloadEnd Siege of Gaza Protest, London (9 Feb 2008)
Video (MP4 format)
(7mins, 21Mb)

FUTURE


Despite starving the Palestinians, the Israelis have failed to break their resolve and they continue to resist occupation, continue to launch their rockets. In the latest development the Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit told the cabinet on Sunday (10th February 2008)that it was time for the IDF to "take off its gloves" and they should wipe out parts of Gaza - head into Gaza with armored tractors and raze entire neighborhoods from which rockets have been launched[1]. The Associated Press quoted Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit saying "We must take a neighborhood in Gaza and wipe it off the map"[2]. Its interesting that an alleged call for Israel to be wiped off the map provokes outrage but it seems it is perfectly acceptable to prescribe the same for Gaza. The Jerusalem Post further confirmed that the IDF is also considering murdering the Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.[1]



It is imperative that at times like these that we voice our protest and pressure our governments to stop supporting Israel's genocidal policies. The next protest in London against the Siege of Gaza is being planned for Saturday 1st March 2008. Please see the events calendar for further details.



References


[1] Sheetrit: 'IDF should wipe out parts of Gaza', By Yaaov Katz and Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post 11 Feb 2008.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1202657415850&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Source Snapshot

[2] Israel's Olmert says no invasion Gaza, By Mark Lavie, Associated Press 10 Feb 2008.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080210/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_palestinians

Source Snapshot

[3] Experimenting with Famine, Neve Gordon, Palestine Chronicle


[4] The state of Gaza should shame us all, by Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam


[5] http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/41_4100.htm


[6]http://www.imemc.org/article/52703

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