‘The world stands by as Gaza starves’

Close to 20 South Africans will be descending on Gaza on New Year’s Eve for a freedom march, despite the Egyptian government’s announcement that it will not allow protestors through the Rafah crossing.

The marchers plan to walk from Rafah in Egypt to Gaza where they will join Palestinians from Gaza in a march to the Erez crossing — the border between Gaza and Israel. The march commemorates the Israeli attacks on Gaza a year ago, when over a thousand Gazans, mostly civilians, and about a dozen Israelis were killed.

Negotiations with Egyptian authorities are under way, in order to convince them to allow marchers through the border.

‘We have prepared for this trip, and we are going to Cairo; we will not be stopped by such announcements,” said a press statement from march organisers.

”The purpose of the march is to show Palestinians that the world does care. People in Gaza have been living under a strangulating siege for about two years. No food, medicines, medical supplies, fuel, or reconstruction material is allowed to go through. We are calling for an end to this blockade, and for international law to apply. Under international law, such collective punishment is illegal. But the world stands by as Gaza starves. We are marching on Erez to tell the Israeli government and the world that Erez must be opened, that crucial supplies must be allowed through, that sick people should be allowed to receive medical treatment.”

The South African delegation will be led by former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, and will include trade unionists, activists and journalists.

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