One hundred and fifty men, women, and children were squeezed into wooden boxes outside the British parliament buildings in Parliament Square, London, on Thursday, in a protest aimed at putting pressure on the UK government to help lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The square demonstration was organized by the British Oxfam charity and aimed to exemplify the conditions in which the people of Gaza are forced to live due to the blockade on the territory.
“Under the blockade, the entirety of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility,” Oxfam said in a statement. “This constitutes collective punishment and is illegal under international law.
“The destruction of civilian buildings and infrastructure this month is the worst we’ve seen in 20 years of working there. The blockade needs to be lifted so Gaza can recover and rebuild — this time, for good,” the text that accompanies the video read.
The protest also served to launch a nationwide action campaign that the charity is organizing to help with its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.
“The international community will be guilty of a dereliction of duty if it stands by and watches the blockade continue to impose further misery on Palestinians in Gaza,” said Nishant Pandey, head of Oxfam in Israel and the Palestinian territories. “Israel does have legitimate security concerns, but punishing everyone in Gaza will not achieve lasting peace and security for either Palestinians or Israelis.”
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to stop indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli cities and destroy Hamas’s tunnels that infiltrate into Israeli territory. Israel says it has struck over 3,000 targets in the Gaza Strip, while Hamas has launched some 3,500 rockets into Israel since the operation began.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after Hamas violently took control of the Palestinian enclave, in an effort to prevent Hamas — a terrorist organization avowedly committed to the destruction of Israel — from bringing in more weaponry. Israel has conditioned the rehabilitation of Gaza on Hamas disarming and the demilitarizing of the Strip, which Hamas rejects.