UK protesters demand the lifting of Gaza blockade
Thursday, August 14, 2014
LONDON – Around 150 people - young and old - gathered outside of the British government building Thursday, many squashing themselves into small wooden boxes in an effort to symbolize the cramped conditions under which Gazans live.
A young child no more than 8 years old peered from a white wooden box, behind him a giant industrial sign emblazoned with the word "GAZA," while his father attempted to crush his own chunky frame into an open-ended receptacle alongside.
Protest-organizers Oxfam said the event had been organized to challenge the UK government into clarifying exactly what it is doing to bring an end to what it called Israel's “collective punishment” of Gaza.
Since 2007 Israel has imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the Gaza strip. With a population numbering 1.4 million it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, according to the United Nations. The bulk of the population live in cities, towns and eight crowded refugee camps, home to over 800,000 people. Egypt - which also shares a border with Gaza - allows only minimum movement across.
The charity's head of humanitarian campaigns told the Anadolu Agency it had carried out the protest to highlight the situation Palestinians face daily.
“If you’re a student you can’t go to the West bank [just 60 kilometers away] to study; if you have family living in Israel or the West Bank it’s very difficult to visit them," said Maya Mailer.
"If you want to export your goods you can’t... If you want to fish further out to sea to get a good catch you can’t."
Mailer added that Oxfam - a member of the Disaster Emergencies Committee, which is appealing for public funds to support its Gaza crisis appeal - condemns violence by both Palestinian and Israeli sides in the conflict.
"What we’re saying is that the blockade needs to be lifted to help ensure a lasting peace so this terrible cycle of violence can come to an end for good.”
Hattie Stewart - one of those demonstrating outside parliament - told the AA that she was there to show her support "from London."
“Everyone has seen what’s going on in the news, and we want to show that we’re all here to support the idea of lifting the blockade and make sure everything doesn’t happen again.”
In Parliament Thursday, U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond welcomed a five-day extension of a ceasefire in Gaza. Israel’s most recent offensive has resulted in the deaths of 1,959 Palestinians -- the vast majority of them civilians.
"The current negotiations are not easy. But there is no other viable option than a comprehensive negotiated solution that will allow both Israeli and Palestinian families to live without fear of further violence,” said Hammond.
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