Thursday, December 31, 2009

Opposing the blockade of Gaza

As my small but loyal band of readers probably knows, two international groups have converged on Gaza to protest the "Israeli siege" of Gaza and to remember the Gaza War of a year ago. One is led by George Galloway - the "Viva Palestina" crew - and the other is called the Gaza Freedom March (which is apparently a coalition of several groups). Today there was a gathering on the Israeli side of the Gaza border, attended by all of Israeli's Arab MPs and community leaders, about 1000 people in all. On the Gaza side of the border, about 100 international activists (from Code Pink, permitted by the Egyptians to enter Gaza yesterday) gathered with about 500 Palestinians.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in Gaza, spoke to the crowd via the mobile phone of one of the Arab MPs, Taleb A-Sana.

So what did Haniyeh say to the assembled crowds?
"Because of international solidarity and your support, we have become stronger," Haniyeh declared. "The Palestinian nation will never give up its national aspirations or its right to Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine and the Islamic people."
Ynet had a more extensive report on Haniyeh's words:
Haniyeh said in the phone call, which was sounded on a loudspeaker system, "We are proud of the Palestinian citizens of the 1948 territories who have come to identify with us. We send a greeting to all the members of parliament, to Sheikh Raed Salah and to all the people who have come to expresses their support for us."

According to the Hamas prime minister, the Arab citizens' presence within the Green Line strengthens the Strip's residents.

"We have managed to overcome the occupation plans and we will surely meet at the al-Aqsa Mosque and in Jerusalem, which will remain Arab and Islamic," Haniyeh said.

(Photo of Israeli Arab leaders)
He sent his greetings to the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which organized the march towards the Erez crossing. "The Strip misses you very much, and God willing, we will meet soon in Jerusalem."
Haaretz reported about the international protesters' activities in Gaza:
The 86 international activists began touring the Gaza Strip on Thursday, in an expression of solidarity with Palestinians living there under the Israeli blockade. They were also scheduled to tour areas hit in the Israeli bombardments, visit Gaza's Shifa hospital, and meet with community leaders, said Hamdi Shaath, the head of the pro-Hamas Committee to Defeat the Blockade.
According to the Ma'an Palestinian news agency, the international activists were from Code Pink, and they brought medical supplies with them. (They had entered Gaza twice before this).

It seems obvious that the international groups trying to get into Gaza have to be working with the Hamas government - how else could they be permitted in from the Palestinian side? Last year, when George Galloway led an earlier Viva Palestina group in, he gave contributions directly to Haniyeh. I think that Hamas' and Haniyeh's intentions are made clear by his statements this morning that "we will surely meet at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Jerusalem, which will remain Arab and Islamic." No talk of the medical aid brought by the Code Pink delegation, or of the suffering of the people of Gaza, which Hamas exploits mercilessly in pursuit of its ultimate goal of an Islamic Palestine. If Hamas actually worked for the sake of the people of Gaza, they would quickly conclude the negotiations for the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit and would enter into good-faith talks with Israel for the terms for lifting the Israeli blockade of their side of the border.

And if the Code Pink and other international activists really cared for the people of Gaza, instead of seizing any opportunity to bash Israel, they would be just as vigorously protesting the Egyptian closure of the Gaza border from their side, and the iron wall (literally) that Egypt is now sinking at that border to stop the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. But no, it's all Israel's fault, as we know.

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