"We call on the world to stop the siege of Gaza and to come to the defense of Palestinian workers in all Palestinian territories," said Ramzi Rabah, a protest organizer with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
About 2,000 demonstrators waving red and Palestinian flags gathered near the Erez border crossing with Israel in northern Gaza in response to a call from the DFLP and other leftist factions.
Hundreds of other demonstrators, meanwhile, took part in a sit-in against the blockade – which causes high unemployment in the impoverished territory – at Rafah on the border with Egypt, witnesses said.
Protesting with Hamas' support (Photo: AFP)
The Islamist movement Hamas which has ruled Gaza since 2007 issued a statement vowing support for workers in the impoverished coastal strip and urging Egypt to open up its border with the territory.
"Hamas supports all workers, especially those suffering until the end of the siege and the reopening of the crossings," the statement said.
Hamas urged Arab and Islamic nations to pressure Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing and stop targeting smuggling tunnels that lead into Gaza.
"We ask the Egyptian leadership to stop killing our workers by gas that is illegal under international law," the statement said, referring to an incident Thursday when four Palestinians working in tunnels were killed.
Hamas said Egyptian security forces pumped poisonous gas into a cross-border smuggling tunnel, a claim Cairo denied.
A strict Israeli and Egyptian blockade in force since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 has severely curtailed the ability of tens of thousands of Gazans to go abroad or to Israel for jobs.
Most Gaza workers have been barred from working in Israel since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in 2000.
The territory has an unemployment rate of almost 40%, according to the International Monetary Fund.