Update from protests in Gaza and at the Erez checkpoint

on 53 Comments
Protest at the Erez checkpoint in southern Israel. (Photo: Michael Ratner)

All along the idea for the Gaza Freedom March was that there would be a march inside Gaza once the delegation arrived, and a concurrent march to the Erez checkpoint on the Israeli side of the checkpoint. Although most of the Gaza Freedom March delegation did not go to Gaza from Cairo, the marches still took place. The photo above is the from the Erez checkpoint, and here is a report we just received about the Gaza march:

Word from Gaza is that 6,000 marched — the maximum allowed by Hamas in absence of international shield — civil society march under Palestinian flag only. Govt felt march route too exposed and too narrow for more to march if Israeli attack was possible.

The 84 internationals who marched w/ gazan palestinians went beyond the end of the march to within 500 meters of border and are sitting in the road holding a press conf

Update: Here’s a video that seems to have footage from both the Gaza and Erez marches –

Update from the comments:

The following was from Alex Kane, a reporter for the Indypendent who went into Gaza with the Gaza Freedom March delegation:

AlexK December 31, 2009 at 12:22 pm

There was not 6,000. Maybe 600…

Some Gazan orgs. pulled out because Hamas took a bigger role than originally promised.

Oblviously, this is a difficult story to follow from New York, and we’ll post updates and clarifications as we get them.

53 Responses

  1. annie
    December 31, 2009, 11:00 am

    i pray for their strength, courage and safety. in solidarity.

  2. Rehmat
    December 31, 2009, 11:04 am

    Gaza under Hamas governance since 2006 has proved the ability of the moral will to stand and survive against all odds.

    “Americans are responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders,” – Sir John Troutbek in a letter to the foreign secretary Ernest Bevin, on June 02, 1948 – as quoted by professor Avi Shlaim.

    Palestine – Silent no more….
    link to rehmat1.wordpress.com

  3. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 11:17 am

    Here’s a taste of the police violence that is a reality to Phil now:
    link to justicentric.posterous.com

  4. Mooser
    December 31, 2009, 11:19 am

    “Govt felt march route too exposed and too narrow for more to march if Israeli attack was possible”

    My God, would they? Will they? On what possible pretext?

    • jimby
      December 31, 2009, 11:31 am

      knowing how israel has acted in the past, i believe any little pretext will do. are there any tunnels in the vicinity?

    • LeaNder
      December 31, 2009, 11:31 am

      I agree, it’s peculiar to witness the authoritarians inside and outside to somehow march lockstep.

      On the other hand. Wars first of all kills one thing: truth. This is the central point: “in absence of international shield”. There is a degree of truth to this statements from the Hamas point of view.

      Remember “posse”? Crowds sometimes turn violent or could? Couldn’t this be a pretext to create calm with no matter what “tools”?

      • annie
        December 31, 2009, 11:47 am

        i’m not following you, are you suggesting the marchers inside gaza might become violent? i think it is reasonable to consider sans an international shield one might question the safety of letting 50,000 march given there is ample evidence all gazans are considered targets, to some people. suggesting the authoritarian nature of the occupation forces towards palestinians matches the authoritarian nature of hamas seems bizarre. these are, after all, their own people.

      • LeaNder
        December 31, 2009, 2:01 pm

        no, I am not suggesting that. I tried to get inside the brainwaves of the oppressive authoritarians both inside and outside.

        The last line is simply playing with a word. Someone here uses it often. “Posse” is a descriptive term for us, dear annie.

        Now if we are collectively “posse”, and we probably support the Gaza Freedom March to a rather high degree, isn’t it possible the internationals and the Gazans they are trying to join are “posse” too? At least from a perspective that things crowds always have to be controlled. Hardly ever they can be trusted.

      • LeaNder
        December 31, 2009, 2:02 pm

        “perspective that thinks”

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 11:54 am

        LeaNder, given what you said, who exactly is the “posse” in your vision?

      • Eva Smagacz
        December 31, 2009, 2:56 pm

        Citizen, posse can be group of people with common interest, can be group of able bodied men helping sherif, or can be a gang.

        If authorities want to teach people a lesson not to associate, they choose the imply nefarious intentions to the group, and by doing so feel entitled to attack them by forces of “law and order”. This is what we fear may happen.

    • potsherd
      December 31, 2009, 11:35 am

      Pretext? “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

  5. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 11:56 am

    Anyone can do anything in the name of self-defense. That doesn’t mean we have to buy their spiel and/or justification for what they did.

  6. Kathleen
    December 31, 2009, 11:58 am

    Who wants to place bets that this video clip will not make on Rachel Maddow’s. Unless you can route it through Iran.

  7. Kathleen
    December 31, 2009, 12:20 pm

    Looked peaceful what was the Egyptian/Israeli/U.S. worried about? That the march might receive some coverage by the U.S. MSM of people chanting, singing and holding hands. Oy Vey

  8. AlexK
    December 31, 2009, 12:22 pm

    There was not 6,000. Maybe 600…

    Some Gazan orgs. pulled out because Hamas took a bigger role than originally promised.

  9. Kathleen
    December 31, 2009, 12:27 pm

    More of what the folks in Ireland are doing to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people
    link to indymedia.ie

    Finkelstein has quite a few clips up of actions around the U.S. and the world
    link to normanfinkelstein.com

    • Citizen
      December 31, 2009, 12:42 pm

      Something to ponder that a street protest in the big apple does not even get on lefty

      • Kathleen
        December 31, 2009, 1:05 pm

        Rachel Maddow will shine her spotlight on gays in Uganda facing discrimination and the possibility of death. She will cover the Iranian Protesters. But did not touch the Goldstone Report and has not even whispered about the Gaza Freedom March. You know one of the hot spots on the planet.

        This hypocrisy is so clear, the double standards almost to the point of racist. Cover this human rights issue but not the Palestinian issue. So hypocritical

        And this is the alleged progressive MSM. What a bunch of hooey.

        Either Rachel does not really give a rats ass about this critical issue or her handlers keep her and all of the other talking heads at MSNBC reigned in on this issue. Not a whisper about the Goldstone report anywhere on MSNBC

        not a whisper about this march

      • VR
        December 31, 2009, 2:40 pm

        Let me clue you in on something about Maddow, she will point these atrocities out in other countries, but she will not finger who is behind the atrocities. There is no MSM which will expose the military industrial corporate powers behind these acts. You can rest assured that your government, and other Hegelian pieces of shit are fully involved, no questions necessary. That is why whether we talk about what is happening in Gaza, Egypt or anywhere in the ME there is either direct or proxy activity taking place to oppress people – everywhere in the world. So you better stop looking at these state monstrosities as some harbinger of good in the world, because they are not, and they only listen to the beck and call of a moneyed elite. Gaza, and the oppression in Egypt is bought and paid for by your tax dollars, it is a prime example – a microcosm of what is taking place in the world, that is why it is vital that we become involved to see that these activities by our governments are cut down without remedy and the very nature of the system be dismantled.

      • potsherd
        December 31, 2009, 3:34 pm

        It is apparently the US who is pressuring Israel not to release Marwan Barghouti, for fear this would weaken the Abbas puppet and the Two State Solution Show.

        link to ynetnews.com

        The sources asserted that Israel’s backtracking is linked to pressure applied by the US and western states to the Israeli government, insisting that Israel refrains from making concessions to Hamas which will increase the movement’s popularity.

        They also expressed their belief that Israel will agree to release Saadat and Barghouti after a deal has been reached, but only as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in order to strengthen his standing among Palestinians.

        Releasing them in the framework of the Shalit deal would only reduce Abbas’ popularity, they said, while increasing that of Hamas – something that the US and other western states wish to avoid.

        Just as it is the US behind the Iron Wall at Rafah. The Evil Empire hasn’t changed the color of its stripes just because it changed the color of its president.

  10. MRW
    December 31, 2009, 12:48 pm

    I realize that I should put this further down on the thread about Richard Falk, but I’m not going to. Pulsemedia just put up a fascinating interview with Richard Falk on Al-Jazeera about current Gaza.
    Thoughtful man.
    link to pulsemedia.org

  11. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 12:49 pm

    Four more short videos of what the FREE GAZA Participants are undergoing:
    link to husseini.posterous.com

  12. Kathleen
    December 31, 2009, 12:55 pm

    You know I have been wondering why the organizers of the march did not focus on the larger picture END THE OCCUPATION….FREEZE AND DISMANTLE THE ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS wondering if this is why Prof Finkelstein dropped out, He is focused on the illegal aspects of what Israel has and continues to do.

    Ii understand the the march should focus on what took place in the Gaza but what about the broader issues. 67 border, dismantle the parts of the wall that are on Internationally recognized Palestinian lands

    The West Bank Isn’t Occupied?

    link to thewashingtonnote.com

    • Chaos4700
      December 31, 2009, 12:58 pm

      Kathleen, if you can’t get people to acknowledge the broken, burned corpse of a child on the ground that results from IDF and Israeli government policies, you’re never going to get them to see something as “harmless” as a “security wall” and most Americans are brainwashed into thinking that the Zionists militants who conquered Palestine to fabricate Israel were there for 2,000 or so years, instead of being the European/Russian colonists that the founders and prevailing leadership of Israel actually are.

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 1:00 pm

        I know I beat a proverbial dead horse here, but look at Witty. He blithely steps, metaphorically speaking, on the aforementioned corpse in order to hide it from view. Unless we can make people see the worst of what people like Witty support, until they can see what Witty really stands for (and on…), all Witty has to do is keep repeating the same lies and propaganda he spouts, like clockwork, every single time.

      • MRW
        December 31, 2009, 1:15 pm

        Report him to Phil and Adam instead. This isn’t a vocabulary definition site, and hijacking it for that purpose with non sequiturs about whether you/we understand this term or that, as he is wont to do, is not what we come here for, nor what the site is about. Let Phil and Adam deal with the complaints.

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 4:13 pm

        With all due respect… how many times has he been reported so far? Have Phil and Adam taken action? And even so, I don’t support banning Witty. It does no good if we all end up preaching to the choir here. In that case we might as well just have an email newsletter with closed membership.

    • David
      December 31, 2009, 2:11 pm

      Kathleen, you’ve actually got it a bit backwards on this one. Norman Finkelstein dropped out b/c the Palestinian partners of the GFM insisted that the march show some recognition of the occupation as a whole. They drafted a political context document which Finkelstein accused of being “partisan” and then he dropped out.

      Let me see if I can find that document and story for you, it’ll take a second.

      • Cliff
        December 31, 2009, 6:51 pm

        I think Finkelstein has some very deep-seated self-destructive tendencies.

        He came in and tried to play messiah, and when the ignorant Natives disagreed with him, he decided to leave.

        Seriously, did he expect them to conform to his particular opinion? It’s the academic up against the people who LIVE the things the academic only talks and writes about.

        Fink is as ideologically rigid as the people he criticizes. And he shows his own partisan hackery when he defends Chomsky on grounds in which he’d insult others (ie. B’Tselem trying to be more mainstream). I consider Chomsky’s obfuscation on the Jewish/Israel/Zionist Lobby to be an example. It could be ideology, his own sense of ethnic exceptionalism, or even a tactic.

        Fink is sharp with his criticism but I don’t know how sincere he is since he dropped out of the Gaza March.

        I mean, even if they didn’t do exactly what he wanted – why leave? How often is there going to be another March like this? Do we have to wait until Israel kills another 1000+ people in a few weeks?

        Time is ticking. This Occupation is a front for the colonization and theft of what remains of Historic Palestine.

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 6:58 pm

        I agree with Cliff wholeheartedly, and that’s exactly what I heard from people who have an ear into things going on in the March — Finkelstein left because he felt the March was becoming “too politicized.” But then, he and some of the others like him neglected to ask the Palestinians what they wanted.

        And they want to call attention to more than just the war crimes in Gaza. The people of Gaza haven’t forgotten the people of the West Bank, nor vice versa (Abbas no longer represents the Palestinian people in any meaningful fashion, incidentally)

      • Richard Witty
        January 1, 2010, 5:19 am

        Finkelstein left because he’s been studying the successes and failures of non-violent civil disobedience, and has noted that it has been succesful in the past when a few conditions exist:

        1. A SPECIFIC issue that bears an obvious contrast to what is just (in this case, the plight of Gaza civilians)
        2. A SPECIFIC definition of the feasible goal of a particularly campaign, that includes civil disobedience as a component (in this case, somewhat ambiguous as not clear whether the goal is to relax the border crossing rate — feasible but insufficient and dependant on Israel, or to open the sea access – infeasible under Hamas governance as still lacking international consent but feasible under international management, or to remove all border restrictions entirely – infeasible as violation of international law of sovereignty.)
        3. A disciplined campaign, disciplined in the sense of keeping to message (the specific goal, no adoption of secondary goals even if related and realized by participants, the time to apply those secondary goals if they can be articulated specifically would be in a different campaign), and disciplined in adherence to non-violent methodology.
        4. Participants in non-violent civil disobedience being well-trained in non-violent methodology and responses (that is NOT training in “direct action” methodology of bolting together or even resisting arrest at all, but does include inter-personal strategies to mediate even in the moment between police and demonstrators, and strategies to keep communication links at all times to those participating, and to establish buddy support networks at all moments in the civil disobedience cycle.)

        I don’t know if that is his thinking, but that is the thinking that underlies successful campaigns by the two definitions that apply:

        1. The campaign sympathetically and accurately portrays the specific issue raised and accomplishes consistent and reliable message (trustable to those that hear of it) that is WIDELY communicated.
        2. The campaign minimizes the physical harms to all parties associated or in any relationship to the campaign (including participants, police, politicians)

      • Cliff
        January 1, 2010, 5:28 am

        More obfuscation from the blog’s anti-mascot. Go away troll.

      • Richard Witty
        January 1, 2010, 5:40 am

        Do you ask yourself whether your comments suppress?

      • Cliff
        January 1, 2010, 6:13 am

        Of course not, you’re still here and you will still be here after I call you a troll the next time.

        The day you make a substantiated argument, is the day you’ve matured in this debate.

        Since that won’t happen, I’ll keep pointing out what a pathological liar you are.

  13. Colin Murray
    December 31, 2009, 1:01 pm
  14. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 1:02 pm

    Various geographical segments of the GAZA Freedom march speak out:
    link to palestinian.ning.com

    Where is the news coverage in the USA? Maddow has spent lots of time on the protests in Iran; why nothing on Gaza now? Will Chris Matthews or Obermann even mention Gaza? Stay tuned.

  15. MRW
    December 31, 2009, 1:11 pm

    Sam Husseini is live-bligging from Cairo. Lots of clips of the march interaction with the police this AM:
    link to husseini.posterous.com

  16. MRW
    December 31, 2009, 1:16 pm

    Oops, sorry, didn’t see that Citizen beat me to the gun with Sam Husseini’s blog.

  17. potsherd
    December 31, 2009, 2:06 pm

    NYT: link to nytimes.com

    Better than nothing.

    • Chaos4700
      December 31, 2009, 2:12 pm

      In Sderot on Thursday, about 200 children holding Israeli flags attached letters of peace to white balloons and sent them aloft on a hillside toward Gaza. But the wind was unfavorable and the balloons flew in the opposite direction.

      Actually, it sounds to me like the wind carried those pleas for peace in exactly the direction they needed to go.

  18. David
    December 31, 2009, 2:12 pm

    CNN has coverage now, although it’s buried on their website. This headline is running on their network ticker, though, at least at the time of my lunch break:
    link to cnn.com

  19. David
    December 31, 2009, 2:18 pm

    Video of DC Vigil for Gaza: link to palestinevideo.blogspot.com

  20. Kathleen
    December 31, 2009, 3:24 pm

    Interesting to see which so called progressive blogs have anything up about the Gaza Freedom March today. Nothing at Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars (nothing), Raw Story (nothing) . Have not checked the Daily Kos but expect nothing.

    Have posted over at Firedoglake but the heavy hitters over there will generally never touch this issue.

  21. Les
    December 31, 2009, 5:15 pm

    If occupation and ethnic cleansing were considered newsworthy events, I am sure the New York Times would be reporting on it.

    • Chaos4700
      December 31, 2009, 5:25 pm

      Just like they backed up Joe Wilson when he came forward with evidence that Iraq was not, in fact, acquiring Nigerian yellow cake uranium, huh.

  22. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 5:32 pm

    The ingenious Palestinians are building homes out of mud–nice ones. As you know
    they can’t get the usual building materials to replace the thousands of bombed out homes due to the blockade:
    link to maannews.net

    Israel will have to use its own genius (and USA tax dollars) to figure out how to take the mud away.

    • Chaos4700
      December 31, 2009, 5:34 pm

      Israel will do what they always do when their agenda is challenged — shoot it, bomb it and bulldoze it. In no particular order.

      • potsherd
        December 31, 2009, 6:04 pm

        Any time the Palestinians have something even remotely good, Israel destroys it. A nation of pure meanness.

  23. Oscar
    January 1, 2010, 11:28 am

    Some more raw footage of the riot police confronting the peaceful demonstrators. Several punches thrown by police. From PressTV:

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