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International solidarity with Palestine protests demand

‘Stop starving the people of Gaza’

Published Jan 6, 2010 7:35 PM

Demonstrators around the world marched in solidarity with the people of Gaza on the one-year anniversary of Israel’s massacre there and to demand an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Israel launched a 22-day attack on Gaza on Dec. 27, 2008, that killed 1,400 people, including hundreds of women and children. Thousands more were injured, losing arms, legs and eyes and becoming paralyzed. The United Nations Goldstone report found that Israel committed war crimes. These crimes included the dropping of white phosphorous, which burns through the skin and when inhaled causes people to bake to death from the inside, and DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive), which tears off limbs.

In New York, 1,000 people, mostly youth, gathered at a rally in Times Square on Dec. 27 and marched to the Israeli Mission to the United Nations. They stopped at the Egyptian Mission to demand that the government let the Viva Palestina international aid convoy enter Egypt to reach Gaza. A member of the convoy, which is led by British MP George Galloway, spoke to the rally by phone. The government of Egypt refused to let the convoy pass through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba. (The convoy finally entered Egypt through the port of Al-Arish on Jan. 3.)

The New York protest was organized by Al-Awda New York — the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Muslims for Palestine, Arab Muslim American Foundation, MAS Freedom Foundation, the International Action Center and others.

Cities throughout the United States held marches and vigils, including Boston; Chicago; Denver; Dubuque; Iowa; Minneapolis; and San Francisco.

Almost 200 people attended a vigil/protest in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March in Dearborn, Mich., on Dec. 29. The protest was organized by the recently-formed Michigan Coalition for Justice in Palestine. After the vigil, protesters marched to the Lebanese Heritage Club for an assembly where committees were organized to initiate follow-up activities in Michigan.

On Dec. 28, there was a protest in front of the Israeli consulate in Atlanta raising the same issues. There were about 125 people, very multi-national, mostly young. It was called by Movement to End Israeli Apartheid-Ga, which formed last spring specifically to conduct “boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS)” campaigns.

The Houston Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine held a spirited demonstration on the one-year anniversary of the Israeli attack on Gaza. Around 400 people came out with Palestinian flags flying high and bright signs and banners displayed on all four corners of the busiest intersection in the U.S.’s fourth-largest city. Palestinians were joined by other Arab people, a group from Turkey, African Americans, whites, Mexicanos/as, Chicanos/as and other Latinos/as.

A large contingent of students from the University of Houston attended and led chants. Speeches were given in Arabic, Spanish, Turkish and English. A loud cheer went up when a speaker said he had just gotten an update from Turkey and over 1 million people in Turkey were also protesting.

Other demonstrations were held in Toronto, Rome, Madrid, Dublin, Dusseldorf and Venice, among many other cities. More than 1,000 people marched in Tel Aviv on Jan. 2 demanding an end to the blockade of Gaza. The blockade has prevented food, medicine and construction material from entering and continues to cause malnutrition, starvation, misery and death.

Gloria Rubac, Dianne Mathiowetz and Mike Shane contributed to this report.

Slideshow photos: NYC/Brenda Ryan, Atlanta/Al Viola, San Francisco/Judy Greenspan, Houston/Gloria Rubac, Cairo, Egypt/Ludo de Brabander