Sabtu, 02 Agustus 2014

Gaza conflict: Pro-Palestinian protesters in Canberra call for end to hostilities (ABC)

About 200 protesters gathered at the rally.ABC About 200 protesters gathered at the rally.

About 200 protesters in Canberra gathered in solidarity with Palestinians on Saturday, demanding an end to the conflict in Gaza.

It comes a day after a ceasefire in Gaza lasted only hours before fresh fighting began.

Israel quickly declared the latest ceasefire in Gaza over, blaming Hamas militants for breaching the truce after the apparent capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas.

Both the US and the United Nations also pointed the finger at Hamas for ending the planned 72-hour ceasefire, which was an ambitious proposal to end more than three weeks of fighting.

Gaza officials say at least 1,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and 7,000 wounded.

More than 60 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 400 wounded. Three civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel.

Protesters rallied at Canberra's Petrie Plaza waving the Palestinian flag and holding signs reading "Stop the massacre in Gaza" and "Free Palestine".

The crowd included Palestinians, members of Canberra's Muslim community, pro-Palestinian Australians, families and curious weekend shoppers who stopped to watch.

Palestinian woman Rajaa Barakat, 41, is currently studying at the University of Canberra and has family living in the centre of Gaza.

"All my sisters and brothers, the Israeli soldiers called them to evacuate from their building," she said.

"They went to a school - they have been there for two weeks."

But Ms Barakat fears for their safety, even in the school.

"Israelis also attack UN schools, so there is no safe place in Gaza. Everywhere there is rockets, everywhere there is fighting."

She said each day she called her family to make sure they were safe, but often there was an anxious wait if power or telephone signals were cut.

Lebanese-Australian Diana Abdel-Rahman, from the Palestinian Action Group Canberra, addressed the peaceful protest, describing the Israeli bombing of Gaza as a war crime.

"This is genocide and it should be exposed as such at all costs," she said.

Ms Abdel-Rahman said in recent days Israel had destroyed more than 40 per cent of Gaza, which is less than half the size of Canberra with more than four times the population.

"It has now become a disaster, no electricity, no power, no nothing - they are suffering," she said.

Although largely a subdued affair, towards the end of the protest a man walked by the protest yelling pro-Israeli sentiments, but was heckled by the crowd and asked to leave.

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