Millions of people around the world have taken to the streets today to commemorate the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day demonstration in support of Palestinians.
Falling on the anniversary of last year’s Israeli invasion of Gaza in which over 2100 Palestinians were killed and 10,000 wounded the annual event saw demonstrations take place in countries around the world ranging from the US to Iraq to Australia.
The massive turnouts showed that in spite of other crises in the Middle East dominating the headlines in recent months the continuing occupation of Palestine continues to exercise consciences and remains an ethical and political priority.
In fact since Al-Quds Day was inaugurated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini, who asked for the last Friday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to be set aside by Muslims as a day for uniting against Israel and showing support for the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinians, it has snowballed into a general show of solidarity drawing in people of all faiths and political persuasions.
Today saw thousands take to the streets in rallies in Australia, France, Germany, US, Canada and the UK where some 4000 demonstrators made the US embassy in London a rallying point because of Washington’s support of Israel. The US continues to underwrite the Zionist regime financially, militarily and politically and block all attempts at finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue. In the Muslim world millions marched in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Turkey and Nigeria, among other places.
Since last year’s invasion the Gaza Strip is still effectively blockaded by Israel and the closing of Gaza’s border with Egypt by the military regime in Cairo. The blockade has crippled the economy with 43% of people out of work – youth unemployment is said to be 60%. Some 80% of inhabitants are dependent on external aid to survive..
About 100,000 people remain displaced in Gaza, and 90,000 homes still need to be repaired or rebuilt. The UN has estimated that it will take 30 years to repair the damage. Power outages last for up to 18 hours a day because electricity, mainly brought in on power lines coming from Israel, is routinely cut off by the Israeli regime. A shortage of clean water is exacerbating already high rates of illness, pressurising a struggling health care system reliant on international handouts.
Illegal settlement activity in the West Bank continues apace in the face of hollow international objections and a continuing refusal to realise Palestinian rights. The ‘apartheid wall’ that has cut off whole Palestinian communities from one another and the rest of historic Palestine continues to exact a heavy toll on the population. Palestinians are routinely subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, with reports of torture and extra-judicial killings commonplace.
IHRC Massoud Shadjareh said: “It is highly encouraging to see the Al-Quds Day growing in stature and millions turning out to demonstrate. Many of them have travelled long distances to join the marches and many will also be drained from the Ramadhan fast. Their sacrifice is to be commended as is their courage in resisting the campaign of demonisation that is quite clearly being waged domestically and internationally against those who stand up for the oppressed in Palestine.”
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