Palestinians, Israelis and people around the world are taking to the streets today as part of a series of activities for the World Social Forum’s Day of Global Action.
Events in Ramallah kicked off with a demonstration organized jointly by the Palestinian National Initiative and the Stop the Wall Campaign. Hundreds of protestors - mostly young people and women - marched peacefully through Ramallah’s central square carrying banners reading "Stop Israeli War Crimes in Gaza" and "Boycott Israeli Apartheid".
"This Global Day of Action offers Palestinian democratic movements the chance to urge the world to intervene and stop what Nelson Mandela has defined ’the new Apartheid of our century,’" said WSF contact person in Palestine and PNI Secretary General, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP.
"Gaza is still under siege and the Israeli-engineered humanitarian crisis continues despite the temporary opening of the border at Rafah. Israel is still maintaining its lockdown on Gaza’s borders, allowing just enough fuel and humanitarian aid inside to stop Gazans from starving. Patients are still dying. This is collective punishment. Israel is exerting revenge against Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants and an entire people are being plunged into the Middle Ages as a result," he added.
Ending the siege on Gaza was also a priority for the majority of other demonstrators. "We came here today to stand in solidarity with our people in Gaza: We are one people," said PNI supporter Rajayi Adib. "We need the world to stand in solidarity with us, and to take political action against Israel to end its occupation," she added.
Fellow protestor Abbas Melhim said "we are here to march in support of our fellow Palestinians in Gaza, and to call for the destruction of the Apartheid Wall and the Apartheid system imposed by Israel in Palestine. This is a day of global action by all those who are against the persecution and oppression of the Palestinian people, and who stand for the basic rights of all peoples. We have to stand together to pressure our governments to support Palestinian rights in their struggle for freedom and dignity."
For 15-year-old Dina Nassif, the fate of children in the Gaza Strip was also a main concern. "I am sending my voice to all Arab peoples that the siege on the Gaza Strip is unacceptable, and that what is happening to children and women there is a crime." "Palestinian children just want to live a normal life like children all over the world," she said.
Other solidarity actions are taking place in Palestine, Israel and around the world, in the US, Europe, and Asia. At 16:00 today in Ramallah, the "Gaza 3ala Bali" (Gaza on my Mind) campaign will march through central Ramallah carrying a coffin with the names of the 83 Palestinians who have died from the siege on Gaza written on it.
"Israel will not end the occupation by itself, but only under pressure from the kind of international solidarity activity and sanctions that forced an end to the Apartheid regime in South Africa. All the necessary tools exist to end this occupation. States and regional bodies must enforce international law, and citizens around the world should join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, to pressure Israel to end its siege on Gaza, to dismantle its Apartheid system, and to stop its occupation," said Dr. Barghouthi.
"We must continue working together with solidarity groups around the world, and with all those who believe in the sanctity of universal rights and international law, to ensure that the international community and international civil society use these means to bring an end to this deleterious occupation," concluded Nassif AlDeek, coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign.