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Orthodox Jews and Palestinians Join Forces to Protest over Gaza Blockade

Posted by on Jan 3rd, 2010 and filed under Recent Posts, Ummah, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By RIZEK ABDEL JAWAD

ORTHODOX Jews joined Gazans and international activists at a border crossing yesterday to protest against the blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel and Egypt.

About 600 people gathered on the Gazan side of the border, chanting slogans and carrying signs condemning the blockade. Among them were a small number of Jews from the small

Neturei Karta sect, which denounces Israel’s existence.

Rabbi Dovid Feldman, from New York, who went to Gaza for the march with three others, said Israel’s offensive in Gaza last winter had been “against Palestine, against Judaism, against the Jewish people and against humanity”.

Thirteen Israelis and almost 1,400 Gazans were killed in the three-week war, which Israel launched to stop years of militant rocket fire on its southern towns.

March organisers said Egypt had allowed only 100 of the 1,300 international activists who had gone to Cairo for the march to enter Gaza.

About 300 people held a similar protest on the Israeli side of the crossing, most of them being Arab citizens of Israel.

Israel and Egypt imposed a strict blockade on Gaza after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007. The blockade has increased poverty in Gaza and prevented it from rebuilding after last winter’s war.

Some 1,400 activists from 43 countries had gathered in Cairo to mark the first anniversary of the offensive.

Egypt said 100 activists would be allowed into Gaza. Alhamy Aref, secretary-general of the North Sinai governorate, said: “Egyptian authorities made an exception and opened the Rafah border and allowed activists from the Gaza Freedom March to pass through.”

The activists, several hundred of whom were from France, had asked Egypt for permission to cross into Gaza but the interior ministry said the march was illegal and a threat to national security. The group has staged protests almost daily since Sunday in different parts of Egypt, surrounded by a heavy police presence. Such demonstrations are rare in Egypt but no violence broke out and no arrests appear to have been made.

Israel controls the air space, sea access and most of the entry points into the coastal enclave of Gaza. Egypt controls the Rafah border, imposing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians and some foreigners. It is also building a controversial steel wall along its Gaza border to halt smuggling.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been suspended since the start of the Gaza war last winter.

US president Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to visit the region later this month to try to get the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks moving again. Egypt has been hosting negotiations with different Palestinian political groups in a bid to end internal disputes, mainly between the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Egypt and Germany have also been mediating a possible prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel.

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