A year since the Israeli invasion of Gaza

For many, New Year’s Eve is a time to reminisce and celebrate, but for some people it is a time to protest, mourn, and bring attention to the plight of others across the world.

Protesters have gathered on a cold Washington DC street corner on a freezing night, marking a year since Operation Cast Lead began.

Though a ceasefire was reached, these people argue that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is still raging.

Elise Springuel, one of the protesters, believes: “Things need to change – what’s happening now is deplorable. It’s one of the greatest human rights issues in the world and it’s been completely ignored by most of the media.”

It is ignored by the media and, the demonstrators say, ignored by governments – including the US.

Operation Cast Lead

A three-week military assault, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

“I think if more people knew what was going on, they would be more vocal in trying to change that,” Emily Spiegel, Jewish-American, Protest Organizer says, adding “and the US plays a large role in what’s going on by supporting Israel and Egypt.”

But the situation is not ignored by people like those taking part in similar protests around the world.

At the border between Gaza and Egypt, demonstrators try to get into Gaza to join a larger rally,
calling for the crossing to be opened and essential supplies allowed to reach the people. Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza after Hamas maintained control of the region in 2007.

After Operation Cast Lead, the situation became worse. Now people in the area can’t get all they need – food, medicaments or fuel.

For those whose families are living in Gaza, this rally means more than showing support.

Nehed Qedin, a Gazan protester, is concerned about the situation: “Right now there is no financial aid getting in. No food, no medicine…nothing is getting in.”

A diverse crowd came out on the streets of Washington DC to call for peace and to lift the blockade. It included Palestinians, but also Israelis, Jews, and Jewish organizations.

Emily Spiegel claimed: “I just don’t agree with what the Israeli government is doing. I think, as a
Jewish American, I feel the need to speak up, because a lot of my community supports what Israel is doing.”

Aeron Shneyer, a Jewish-American, spreads his message through music: “More and more Jews are realizing what’s good for Israel is also what’s good for Palestinians, and to be one-sided is not helping anyone.” His band includes both Palestinians from Gaza and Israeli Jews.

But for some protesters, enough is enough.

“The occupation has gone on for more than 40 years and it’s the result of racism,” Kyle Foley,
An American protester thinks.

For Israel’s part, Gaza is a launching pad for terrorist attacks against it, and Gaza’s government –
with its ties to Iran – remains a security threat.
But while the politicians shake their fists, the fight for everyday Palestinians is for food, medicine and security.