02/25/2008, 00.00
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Human chain against Gaza blockade

Demonstration goes off peacefully but draws only 5,000 people, a tenth of what was expected, because of bad weather according to organisers. About 50 youths briefly approached the Erez crossing where they threw stones at the Israelis.

Gaza (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A demonstration made up of a human chain to protest against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip went off peacefully today but with fewer than expected participants.

The chain was supposed to run the length of the 40 kilometre-long Gaza Strip, from Rafah on the Egyptian border to the Erez crossing with Israel.

The Popular Anti-Siege Committee expected some 40,000 to 50,000 participants but only a tenth showed up because of bad weather, according to the organisers who announced further protest actions.

Today’s protesters, mostly school children and women, waved signs reading "Stop the Siege,” “Your Siege Shall Not Win,”  " The Siege Shall Only Make Us Stronger ".

Before the demonstration Israel deployed thousands of troops along the border, warning that it was ready to use all means at its disposal to prevent any illegal entry into its territory.

Still some 2,000 Hamas loyalists marched to a checkpoint several kilometres away from Erez, but were blocked by Hamas police on the main road leading to the Erez checkpoint and turned away the marchers.

About 50 youths briefly approached Erez and threw stones at the Israeli side.

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