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Candlelight demonstration remembers the martyrs of Nablus and Gaza

2 January 2010

A demonstration was held in the northern West Bank city of Nablus last night to mark the anniversary of the 3-week assault launched on Gaza one year ago that left over 1,400 Palestinians dead, and to mourn the assassination of 3 men by Israeli soldiers in Nablus last week.

Demonstrators filled Nablus’ centre, Al-Duwar, and lit candles in honour of those who died. Speeches were made by local activists from the Tanweer Palestinian Cultural Enlightenment Forum, An Najah University, the Nablus Women’s Union and international activists from ISM, all who declared their solidarity with those suffering from the crippling siege of Gaza and condemning the atrocities caused by Israel’s war crimes. Protesters then marched by candlelight, singing and chanting, through the Old City to the homes of Raed Sarakji and Ghassan Abu Sharkh where they were murdered by Israeli soldiers on 26 December. Though the loss hung heavy in the air, the crowd came together in support of each other and a sense of hope retained as the demonstration disbanded.

The Israeli army invaded the Palestinian city of Nablus on Saturday 26 December where they raided three houses and executed three men. Several family members were injured and the houses, where families of the three killed men lived, had been left completely destroyed. The army used live ammunition against the men, at least two of whom were unarmed and fired rockets at the houses, while their residents were still inside. The Israeli military claims the men were wanted for their involvement in the recent killing of an Israeli settler near Tulkarem, for which a group associated with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility. The killings are, however, in flagrant breach of international law and constitute assassinations without trial.

The Palestinian, Israeli and international community has been awash the past two weeks with actions commemorating the tragedies of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 3-week assault launched on Gaza on 27 December 2008. Candelight vigils were held in numerous West Bank cities such as Ramallah and Bethlehem, while protesters in Bil’in’s weekly demonstration joined to march in solidarity with Gaza last week. The Gaza Freedom March, co-ordinated by Code Pink, suffered severe repression at the hands of Egyptian authorities as its 1,400 delegates attempted to reach the Rafah crossing to Gaza from Cairo. Despite the violent setbacks meted out by Egyptian police, protesters have managed an inspiring series of actions, from mass demonstrations in Cairo city to 85 year-old holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein’s hunger strike, declaring that she would feast when Gaza feasts too. Inside Israel, 300 demonstrators marched to Erez crossing, calling for Israel to end the siege of Gaza. Dozens of Israeli activists were arrested the day before as they attempted to swim from Israel’s southern sea front and breach Gaza’s sea border.