Israeli Arabs and Jews protest against Gaza blockade

Hundreds of Israeli pacifists, both Arabs and Jews, marched in central Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip.

The demonstrators -- estimated at more than 1,000 by organisers of the march -- changed slogans urging "liberty and justice for Gaza" as they marked the first anniversary of Israel's war on Gaza.

They called for the lifting of the blockade on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave and accused Israel of carrying out "war crimes" in the territory.

On December 27, 2008 Israel launched a massive offensive against Gaza in a bid to halt Palestinian rocket and mortar fire. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the 22-day conflict.

On Thursday, hundreds of people including international activists held a similar protest on both sides of the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Among the protesters were a small group of bearded anti-Zionist religious Jews clad in traditional ultra-Orthodox clothing and holding signs that read: "Judaism yes, Zionism no... State of Israel must go."

Israel has sealed Gaza off to all but limited humanitarian aid since Hamas seized power there in June 2007 from forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

 

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