Friday, 1 January 2010

Gazans and Internationals march in Solidarity to end the siege

Two coaches arrived in Gaza city at 1 O'clock in the morning after long delays picking up a small group of extra people from Al Arish. The Egyptian authorites had been obstructive to the last creating delays and confusion and giving incorrect and misleading information. Arguments had divided many of the Gaza Freedom March participants as some chanted "All go or no-one goes. Everyone or no-one!"The Spanish contingent were particullarly vociferous in their dismay that only a small proportion of the 1,300 would be allowed to proceed.
31st December. We took a speedy coach trip through the city in which we witnessed the effects of the Israeli bombardment which hit schools as it commenced at 1130 AM, in which the children were in the playground and most were killed and many injured, cemeteries and factories were hit many of which still show the missile holes. We then passed an area which held some 3,000 homes which was raised to the ground by the bombardment; the surviving members are now living in a ramshackle encampment consisting of plastic sheets and scraps of corrugated metal.
About 1,000 Gazans assembled with Palestinian flags and banners in the brilliant sunshine calling for an end to the siege which is strangulating this narrow strip of land and crippling the economy, these were joined by the majority of the GFM participants. With banners fluttering and the speakers blaring the marched proceeded noisily in the direction of the Israeli Erez crossing. Gazan security forces stopped the march at the Gaza border checkpoint about 400 metres from the separation wall. Following passionate speeches calling for an end to these crimes against the Gazan people the marchers called to move forward towards the Israeli zone another 100 metres on and we were told that the Israelis had sent a message that they would take military action against us and open fire if we proceeded further. The marchers called out in resounding chants for the borders to be opened, the siege to be lifted and to stop these crimes against humanity.

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