Dozens of buses carrying a thousand leftists arrive at Erez crossing to bring food, humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza Strip and to protest blockade on enclave. MKs from Balad and Hadash, youth from Sderot take partYonat Atlas, Published: 01.26.08, 17:16 / Israel News
More than a thousand left-wing activists made their way to the Erez border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Saturday in order to bring food and medical equipment to the costal enclave.
The activists held a demonstration against the Israeli-imposed blockade on the Strip. Palestinians on the opposite side of the crossing also organized a rally of their own.
Twenty-five buses and around 100 cars arrived at Erez from all over Israel. The activists collected three tons of food and medical supplies during the demonstration. The items will be brought to the Kerem Shalom crossing where, according to the protesters, they will be transferred to Palestinians in Gaza on Monday.
MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) attended the event and called for an end to the blockade and the reopening of border crossings to the Hamas-held enclave.
"The Israeli government holds the responsibility for the humanitarian disaster in Gaza," Zahalka said during the protest. According to the MK, Israel is employing "fascist methods" by preventing food and fuel from reaching the area.
"We'll continue to protest and reveal the war crimes (being carried out) against one and a half million Palestinians in the Strip," he said.
Shir Shodzik, 17, a resident of the battered town of Sderot also took part in the demonstration in order to express her opposition to the Israeli-imposed sanctions. Despite the fact that Shodzik's aunt and cousin were injured in a Qassam rocket attack in Zikim, the teen wanted to express her dissatisfaction with Israeli government policy vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip.
"I came to show my identification with the Palestinian people. There is no need for violence or (the use of) force in order to solve this situation," she said.
Shodzik added that she "knows it is absurd that I am taking part in this protest," but explained that it is the path she has chosen.
'We won't be party to this crime'
Left-wing activist Uri Avnery made a speech during the rally in which he said: "Three days ago, a wall fell here, like the Berlin Wall fell, like the separation wall and all walls and fences will fall. But the inhumane closure that has been imposed on one and a half million Gaza residents by our government and by our army in our name – this closure will continue with all its cruelty.
"As Israelis who came here with basic supplies, in our desire to tell the Israeli public and the whole world: We won't be part of this crime. We're ashamed of this siege," Avnery said.
Avnery added that: "Our hearts are with our Palestinian brothers who are demonstrating with us on the other side of the fence. Don't lose hope that one day we will meet without fences and walls, without weapons and violence, as two nations living together in peace, in friendship, in partnership.
"Our hearts are also with our brothers in Sderot. The Qassam threat must be stopped, but it won't be stopped through a policy of an eye for an eye or 100 eyes for one, because this leaves us all blind. It will end when we speak with the other side. Yes, yes, with Hamas," Averny said.
AnnaLynne Kish, an activist from the left-wing New Profile organization also took part in the rally. "We decided to come here as a sign of identification with the Palestinians in Gaza. The closure on the Strip is inhuman and goes against international law. This is an instance of collective punishment.
"We decided to bring food and water to the residents and if only we could bring them electricity – we would do this too," she said.
Another Sderot resident who wised to remain anonymous told Ynet in response to news of the demonstrations that "for seven years we haven't seen one of them in Sderot. They didn't come to (see) us even once after a Qassam barrage.
"Suddenly, they discover that the other side is suffering and come to protest, but what about our suffering? They should stop trying to look so good (in the eyes of others) and return to their strongholds in northern Tel Aviv.
"I invite them to spend a week in Sderot with their children. Then it will be interesting to see if they continue to protest in favor of the Palestinians."
Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report