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Gaza Human Chain Protest A Few Links Short

Posted by Atilla89 on February 26, 2008

Yesterday I talked about the huge amount of IDF forces on the Gaza Strip border to counter-attack the perceived threat of the Palestinian protests. At least 40,000 people were supposed to turn up and there was a possibility of another Rafah style border crossing this time into Erez. However, today, only 20,000 people turned up. Good work Hamas, no really you tried hard.

Dire predictions for a Rafah-style run on the Erez Crossing fizzled out Monday along with Hamas hopes for a publicity coup as dreary weather combined with what appeared to be a simple lack of motivation on the Palestinian side to participate in the “human chain across Gaza” demonstration. In the hours following what one officer termed “the march that wasn’t,” security forces reduced their level of alert Monday evening, believing that Hamas’s motivation to try another such event in the near future had been weakened.

Which is quite obviously a good thing. A border crossing similar to the one that happened in Egypt would be absolutely disastrous for Israel.

After the event, Palestinian media reported that 20,000 people had participated in the demonstration, half the anticipated number. In Beit Hanun, a city of 32,000, approximately 5,000 Palestinians turned out to form their part of a human chain – but the numbers throughout the Gaza Strip were insufficient to connect the chain’s different links. At one point, Palestinians said, some 2,000 hard-liners marched to a point several kilometers away from the Erez Crossing, but Hamas police blocked the main road leading to Erez and called on the protesters to obey the law.

A massive force of some 6,500 police officers was deployed along the Gaza perimeter, backing up a reinforced IDF presence to provide coverage in the event that any of the protesters did attempt to break through the Gaza security fence.

IDF soldiers paint their faces before going out on patrol along the border between Israel and Gaza Strip, Monday.

“We are prepared for any scenario, but we hope it won’t develop into anything beyond a simple demonstration,” IDF deputy spokesman Col. Ze’ev Sharoni told The Jerusalem Post in the hours before the protest. “The IDF is deployed in the field and will do anything to prevent Palestinian demonstrators from crossing into Israel.” Sharoni emphasized that – contrary to reports issued Sunday evening – troops had not received orders to shoot Palestinians that might try to infiltrate Israel.

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