Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A March to Break the Siege (+video that I shot)

We boarded a van from Hebron to Bethlehem, a bus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, and a bus from Jerusalem to Gaza (Erez crossing). It took quite a few hours and it took some fossil fuels, but it was well worth the trip. It was a necessary trip because the siege on Gaza needs to be lifted.

Israel, with Egypt and the United States' complicity and assistance, has turned Gaza into an open air prison. Israel's assault on Gaza (winter 2008/2009) left much of the territory destroyed: from houses, to schools, to universities, to UN compounds, to hospitals. Following the war, the siege has not been lifted to allow food stuffs or (re)building supplies.

The Palestinians of Gaza are being held without the ability to eat, rebuild, move, or study. Israel needs to be held to accountability, but so does the world, because as Ali Abunimah pointed out:

“the siege is not Egypt's policy alone -- far from it -- it is imposed first and foremost by Israel, but with the full complicity of North American, European and other governments. In our meeting at the US Embassy, it was confirmed that the US Army Corps of Engineers is assisting Egypt to build the underground barrier designed to prevent Palestinians breaking the illegal blockade by digging tunnels. So there is a lot of work to do expose and oppose this criminal complicity.”

The work that we undertook to oppose this criminal siege was to march to Erez Crossing (on the Israel/Gaza border) to call for an end to the siege. On December 31, internationals attempted to enter Gaza from Egypt, to march with Gazans to the border. The Egyptian government denied these activists, often brutally, the freedom to enter Gaza. Nonetheless the Gazans marched to the crossing, to call for their own freedom.

Many internationals, Palestinians, and Israelis gathered to meet the Gazans at Erez. From the Israeli side, we could not see the Gazans on the other side, because of the massive terminal and wall between us. Despite the wall between us, there was a sense that we had met at the border, in an effort to show world leaders and politicians that as citizens of the world, we will not stand for this injustice.

As I was walking back to the bus after our demonstration I could hear a faint cry in the distance. I first thought it was those of us gathered on the Israeli side, but then I realized it was coming from the other side of the wall. The cries for justice were louder than the wall, as Gazans chanted, “Sha'ib il Arabi la yamuut (The Palestinian people will not die).” The power of the wall and the siege were not enough today. Our cries for justice were louder than the siege.

1 comment:

Osie said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.