Israel: Thousands Protest Gaza Blockade
On Saturday, thousands of Israeli demonstrators held a march and a rally in Tel Aviv to protest, not only the blockade of the Gaza strip but also 43 years of Israel’s occupation of the West-Bank. The protesters marched between Rabin Square to the Tel Aviv museum where speeches were given. The main slogan of the protest was “The Government Is Drowning Us”.
One of the organizer, Adam Keller from Gush Shalom, said that “many people didn’t agree to what level they oppose the government, but they feel suffocated by it, and feel that it is antagonizing the entire world”. According to Peace Now, another organization behind yesterday’s protest “Israel is sinking and needs to change direction”. Peace Now said that over 10,000 people attended Saturday’s demonstration.
“We are concerned for the state and are embarrassed by a government that leads us to oblivion. This message brings together many population groups, not only within the Left. There is a sense amongst many Zionists at being fed up with the government policies,” says Peace Now General Director Yariv Oppenheimer.
During the march and the rally dozens of right-wing counter protesters attempted to disrupt the protest and chanted “traitors”, “terror supporters” and “go to Gaza”, from behind a line of riot police separating them from the peace activists. Again, towards the end of the event, extremists right-wingers hurled a smoke grenade at the rally. As the smoke filled the Square, the protesters began to chant: “No, no- Fascism will not prevail”.
One of the other organization behind the rally, Gush Shalom, reported an attack on one of their leading member: 86 year-old Uri Avnery. Avnery had just entered a Taxi cab when a dozen right-wing “thugs” attacked him and tried to drag him out of the car. The police eventually arrived and dispersed the right-wingers.
“These cowards thugs did not dare to attack us when we were many, but they were heroes when they caught Avnery alone,” said Adam Keller from Gush Shalom.
On June 1, Gush Shalom posted an ad in Haaretz calling the action of the Netanyahu administration in the flotilla tragedy “A Crime Against Israel”.
“What happened yesterday is a crime. A crime against the state of Israel. A band of foolhardy, irresponsible and power-drunk persons decided on an action that was bound to result in people being killed and injured. No sensible person in Israel or abroad will buy the collection of lies and pretexts with which those responsible are trying to justify themselves. Not only was this operation immoral, but it is also turning against us the last of our sympathizers in the world, and adding strength to those who call for a boycott of Israel”, said Gush Shalom’s statement.
Gush Shalom says that there is only one way to limit the damage for the Jewish state: To call for the immediate appointment of an international investigation and to lift at once the immoral and illegal blockade against the 1.5 million inhabitants of the Gaza strip.