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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 16:25 GMT
Gazans discuss human chain protest
Three Palestinians discuss their involvement in the "human chain" demonstration against the Israeli blockade of Gaza and how the siege is affecting them.

RAMY ABDU, 29, GAZA CITY

Ramy is a spokesman for the Popular Committee Against the Siege, which organised the human chain in Gaza.

Ramy Abdu
Ramy says the action highlighted humanitarian concerns

Our human chain stretched from Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza down to Rafa in the south. There was wide participation - thousands of people turned up.

We urge the international community to put more pressure on the Israelis to end the siege of Gaza.

Life here is getting worse. People are suffering and we are asking Israel and the international community not to push us to breaking point.

If the Israelis are really so afraid, why are they pushing us into a worse place? Let the medicine and the food into Gaza.

We want people to take part in our actions and to do it in a civilised, peaceful way. If they stay at home, no-one will see them.

We are an independent committee, we did not organise this with Hamas.

Of course, Hamas would be one of the beneficiaries of the lifting of the siege - and they were among the many people in the chain. We welcomed them and everyone else.

The siege does not target specific people, everyone suffers.

If you jail a prisoner you at least give him food. We are not talking about the politics of it all, just the violation of our basic humanitarian needs.

And if people outside keep silent about it, they are taking part in it too.

SAMEH HABEED, 22, GAZA CITY

I joined the chain for about 15 minutes. I work full time so could not stay longer. It was peaceful and there was no violence.

Sameh Habeed
I got a scholarship to study in Italy last year, but I couldn't leave because the borders were closed

It was very crowded and there were lots of journalists and film crews too.

Groups of children were hurrying with their teachers to head north, to start the chain in Beit Hanoun.

People are very angry about the siege and how it's affecting us.

I saw people from Fatah, from Hamas, from the Popular Front, people forgot their different groups for a time.

The organisers are not hardline Hamas - they talk to Israeli groups and media.

The siege has affected me enormously. I got a scholarship to study in Italy last year, but I couldn't leave because the borders were closed.

I now have an invitation to represent Palestine in Canada later this year, at a forum for young journalists in Quebec.

I have to go to Egypt for my interview, but I'm worried I will lose it, as I lost my chance in Italy.

IBTASAM, GAZA CITY

I didn't go to the demonstration. I cannot afford to be political, because my work [in a multinational NGO] means I must be impartial.

The people who called for this human chain are actually neutral, but of course Hamas support them because they want the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) and the Israelis to lift the siege too.

The current political agenda is not helping the situation.

It cannot work with just Fatah, or just Hamas. We need unity. Our leaders should start leading all of us.

Closing the Rafah border has affected people badly. Students cannot go to university, patients cannot travel for treatment. There's very little petrol.

We rely on all sorts of goods coming from Israel - which no longer arrive. The Israelis decide what can and cannot come through.

I work in health care. Clinics lack basic medicine for core diseases and conditions - like high blood pressure.

People have to store medicines in the fridge - and then the electricity cuts out.

Patients are dying because they cannot leave Gaza for treatment.

There is a shortage of stationery. There is no printing paper available in the markets, so schools are using old textbooks and notebooks.

My son is nine years old, he has to do his homework on a blackboard.


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