Activists in Gaza and Israel protest Gaza blockade

AP News
Posted: Dec 31, 2009 3:20 PM

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied on opposite sides of an Israeli-Gaza border crossing on Thursday to protest the blockade of the seaside territory imposed by Egypt and Israel.

In Gaza, about 100 international activists gathered with some 500 Gazans, chanting and carrying signs denouncing the blockade.

A small number of anti-Zionist, Orthodox Jews were among them _ a rare sight in Gaza.

Rabbi Dovid Feldman, from New York, said he came to Gaza for the march with three others from the small Neturei Karta sect, which denounces Israel's existence.

Feldman said Israel's offensive in Gaza last winter was "against Palestine, against Judaism, against the Jewish people and against humanity."

Thirteen Israelis and almost 1,400 Gazans were killed in the three-week war, which Israel launched to stop years of militant rocket fire on its southern towns.

Late Thursday, a Grad rocket fired from Gaza exploded on the outskirts of the Israeli town of Netivot, 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Gaza, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. No one was hurt. It was the first time since last winter's war that Palestinians have fired a Grad rocket at Israel.

In a speech this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to hit back for every rocket attack from Gaza.

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March organizers said Egypt allowed only 100 of the 1,300 international activists who came to Cairo for the march to enter Gaza.

About 300 people held a similar protest on the Israeli side of the crossing, most of them Arab citizens of Israel.

Israel and Egypt imposed a strict blockade on Gaza after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

The blockade has increased poverty in Gaza and prevented it from rebuilding after last winter's war.