Thousands of Gazans protesting the Israeli
blockade formed a human chain Monday morning along the 40-kilometer long (25 miles) Salah a-Din route, which stretches from Rafah in the south all the way to the northern town of Beit Hanoun.
Protesters from all across the Strip, including thousands of school children, waved signs reading "The siege will only make us stronger", "The world has sentenced Gaza to death" and "Save Gaza".
IDF soldiers near Gaza (Photo: Amir Cohen)
Rami Abdu, a spokesman for the Popular Committee Against the Siege, said he expected the rally to end without any unusual incidents. "Our message to the world is that we will not be silent until the siege is lifted," he said.
However, in the afternoon hours a small riot erupted near the Erez Crossing, as dozens of Palestinians began stoning IDF forces and Border Guard officers stationed there.
The Israeli forces proceeded to arrest 50 of the rioters, who according to Palestinian sources were mostly teenagers. The IDF, according to one of the sources, had no reason to arrest the teens, since "they were hurling rocks toward the general direction of the crossing but did not pose a threat to any of the soldiers."
A source in the Popular Committee Against the Siege, which organized the mass anti-blockade protest in Gaza called the arrest "proof that Israel was trying to aggravate the situation in order to have the human chain fail in the effort to deliver its message across."
Most of the IDF forces and the 6,000-strong Israel Police and Border Guard force deployed near Gaza have remained inactive for the most part, as fears of possible attempts by
protesters to infiltrate Israel have not materialized.
Meanwhile, two Qassams were fired from in Beit Hanoun, with one of them landing inside Palestinian territory and the other in an open field just south of Ashkelon. No injuries were reported.
Ali Waked contributed to this report