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The entire world demands: Freedom for Gaza!
Freedom for Gaza poster
By: Michael Warschawski
Alternative Information Center
30 December 2009
It is already possible to attribute one achievement to the Gaza Freedom March: the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants have come out of the forgotten world. Since the massacre committed by the Israeli military, one year ago, it is as if the land had swallowed up Gaza. No one spoke about the horrific blockade which transformed Gaza into the world’s largest prison, or the human suffering that bordered on a humanitarian crisis, or the lack of food, water and medicines, and principally about Gaza’s disconnect from the West Bank. From the moment that Israeli war planes stopped their bombings and the massive barrages of artillery stopped falling, Gaza ceased to interest the world, as if the blockade is normal for the women, men, children and elderly that populate the area. The initiative of our American friend, Professor Normal Finkelstein, to organize an international march to break the blockade, ignited the imagination of the solidarity movement throughout the world, and approximately 1,500 people from over 40 countries enlisted to the Gaza Freedom March.
Whether the activists reach Gaza via Rafah or the Egyptian authorities manage to prevent the march, its first goal has been achieved: the entire world is once again talking about Gaza and the international press is forced to report on the blockade and the intolerable situation of the Palestinian residents of Gaza.
Tomorrow, on 31 December 2009, Egyptians and Europeans, Americans and Asians will make their way to the Gaza Strip, some of whom will even manage to enter the prison called Gaza.
Also from Israel activists will come to protest. At the initiative of the High Monitoring Committee of the Arab population in Israel and with the support of the Anti-War Coalition (Israel), several hundred Israelis will demonstrate outside of the Erez checkpoint, such that also from within the Israeli population will be heard a clear and bitter voice against the blockade, and the demand to try those responsible for last year’s slaughter.
The Alternative Information Center took upon itself to assist the Israeli women and men activists, but also the tens of internationals who chose to demonstrate on the Israeli side of the blockade, to reach Erez. At this stage, and although tomorrow is a regular workday, at least two buses will leave from the Jerusalem area. This is not many, but sufficient to break the envelope of silence suffocating the Gaza Strip.
The big question is how many people will demonstrate within the Gaza Strip and what will be the position of the elected Palestinian government in relation to the international initiative. Heavy pressures are being exerted on the Palestinian government, both by the Egyptian government and the “international community”, to ensure that the mobilization will be as minimal as possible.
“Freedom for Gaza” also means a struggle against the Egyptian-American plan to close the sole lifeblood remaining for the residents of Gaza—the tunnels. The construction work on a 20 meter steel wall between Egypt and the Gaza Strip commenced, and Egypt is now making a real contribution to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza residents, and is liable to contribute to a humanitarian crisis which to date has been prevented solely by these very tunnels. If responsibility for the blockade is first and foremost Israeli and the obligation to remove it falls on the Israeli government, today there is no longer a possibility to ignore Egyptian cooperation in abusing the 1.5 million residents of Gaza. The Egyptian attempt to prevent the international marchers currently in Egypt from reaching Rafah is additional testimony to Egyptian collaboration with the Israeli blockade. We, Israeli activists against the Israeli occupation, must struggle against the policy of blockade implemented by our government. Arab activists, in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, should act against their own governments collaboration.
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