Gazans set to form 'human chain' protest

Gazans were set to form a human chain along the length of the territory on Monday to protest the crushing Israeli blockade, with Israeli forces on alert.

Gazans set to form 'human chain' protest
The Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), a politically independent group headed by Palestinian parliamentarian Jamal Al Khudari, called for the mass demonstration against the months-long siege on the impoverished territory.

The group said it would attempt to construct a human chain from the sealed Rafah crossing on the southern Gaza border with Egypt to the Beit Hanun crossing in northern Gaza along the territory's main highway.

Israel has sealed off the territory — where most of the 1.5 million population depend on aid — from all but vital humanitarian supplies since Hamas seized power there in June.

But Palestinians and several international agencies have said the sanctions amount to collective punishment of its civilian population.

Palestinian fighters blasted several holes in the border barrier between Gaza and Egypt on January 23, sending a tide of hundreds of thousands of people streaming into the Sinai on a mission to replenish depleted stocks.

Egyptian troops and Hamas gunmen resealed the border on February 3.

Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip last June following battles with forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, has said it backs Monday's demonstration but did not organise it.

Media reports said the Israeli army is preparing for a possible rush on the border fence around the Gaza Strip aimed at breaking the economic blockade.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper has reported that Israeli forces have increased their presence along the border, adding that there can be casualties if troops try to halt such a march.

Spokesman Miki Rosenfeld said that Israeli police have been put on high alert, one stage below the maximum level.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Şubat 2008, 12:49