Independent Palestinian MP Jamal Al-Khoudary has ignited a symbolic flame to break the siege of the Gaza Strip. The head of the Popular Committee against the Siege stressed the need to confront the Israelis and bring them to account for it. "It will only end when sufficient pressure is brought to bear by the international community," he insisted. "This requires action from the UN and EU, due to the latter's relationship and capabilities."
Dr Al-Khoudary pointed out that the Palestinians have been waiting on these two bodies, as well as other international, Arab and Islamic authorities, to do more than just issue warnings to Israel: "We have been waiting for them to take real action to end the siege for seven years."
The MP was speaking at a press conference before lighting the flame in Unknown Soldier's Square in Gaza City. He stressed that this is a message to rouse the world's conscience. Praising the steadfastness of the Palestinian people, he called for unity and the end of the serious political and social division which affects everyone.
Al-Khoudary provided a list of the detrimental effects of the Israeli-led siege, including the deterioration of public services; rising salinity levels in the water supply; rising poverty and unemployment rates; and the collapse of the construction industry. "The blockade is not only illegal," he said, "but also immoral and inhumane, breaking the principles of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention." Collective punishment is a crime against humanity, he added.
Turning to the issue of Israel's ongoing Judaisation policies, the MP called for the continuation of popular protests against the so-called Prawer Plan to displace Palestinian Bedouin, destroy their villages and replace them with Jewish settlers. "The occupied West Bank, occupied Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip are all at risk from Israel's policies," he noted. "As the Prawer Plan demonstrates, not even Palestinians within the 1948 borders are safe from the Israeli government."