An extreme left-wing activist told Ynet he hoped the thousands of Gazans protesting against Israel's policies would "infiltrate Israel and lift the siege off the Strip."
"This act is amazing and it will prove effective against the Israeli occupation," Yonatan Pollak, a member of the "Anarchists against the fence" group said as thousands of Gazans protesting the Israeli blockade began forming a human chain Monday morning along the 25 miles long Salah a-Din route, which stretches from Rafah in the south all the way to the northern town of Beit Hanoun.
Pollak, who is leading the struggle against the construction of the West Bank security fence in the Palestinian village of Bil'in, located near Modi'in, said "I hope the thousands of Palestinian protestors will march toward Israel and tear down the border fence, just as they did in Rafah (Gaza-Egypt border).
Uri Avneri, of the Gush Shalom movement, said he supported the Palestinian protest so long as it remains peaceful. "If the demonstration is non-violent, then it can be seen as a positive development, because for years we've been hoping that the resistance becomes non-violent.
"The siege on Gaza is a disaster – it's inhumane, illegal and immoral," the long-time activist said. "We will never be able to benefit from the existing situation; we must act to end the suffering of the resident of Sderot and Gaza alike and hold talks with Hamas in order to reach a ceasefire."
Hands across Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
Right-wing Knesset Member Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP), said the IDF must prevent the infiltration of Palestinian protestors "at all costs", adding that "anyone marching toward the border fence must know that his is at risk and that he may pay a heavy price for attempting to crush Israel's sovereignty.
"The army must also launch preemptive artillery fire to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the fence and create a buffer zone between Gaza and Israel. The suffering Palestinians must turn to their leaders, who led them to a reality of economic and personal insecurity.
Only 20 thousand Palestinians participated in the human chain protest in Gaza; a much lower figure than the 50 thousand Hamas expected to show up. Despite the low number, the Islamist organization insisted that "this was a big success." The thousands that did turn up spread themselves out along Salah a-Din corridor that runs from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza to Rafah in the south. Around Beit Hanoun alone, 5,000 students took part.
Hamas sources estimated that the low turn-out was a result of the heavy downpour that came down in the Strip – primarily in the south and central of the enclave – during the morning hours. They also attributed the low numbers to Israeli threats and reports that Israel was planning to bombard the participants with artillery fire if they approached the fence or the Erez border terminal.
"These threats, in addition to Israeli aircraft that didn't leave the skies over Gaza, sowed fear among some of the people that refrained form showing u; and the rain didn't help, but we're talking about a big success," a Hamas member in charge of organizing the event in Beit Hanoun told Ynet.
Amnon Meranda contributed to the report