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Iran holds massive rally to protest Gaza blockade by Israel

Reports by Press TV

Millions of Iranians have held rallies across the country in condemnation of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip against Palestinians.

Demonstrators chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" in the capital Tehran and carried banners, denouncing Israel's atrocities in the Gaza Strip run by the democratically-elected Palestinian government of Hamas.

The Islamic movement does not recognize Israel as a legitimate state.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani
also joined ralliers in Tehran on Friday.

President Ahmadinejad, speaking with reporters, strongly condemned Israel's blockade of Gaza, saying Tel Aviv is increasing pressure on Palestinians to hinder their upcoming election.

Incumbent Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas' four-year term expires on January 9. However, it is unclear when the elections will be held.

A recent Israeli National Security Council assessment has urged Tel Aviv to hinder "elections in the Palestinian Authority, even at the cost of a confrontation with the US and the international community."

At the end of theThursday rallies, a statement was issued in strong condemnation of international silence on Israel's siege of the region as well as the attacks in the West bank city of al-Khalil.
The Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis as Israel has imposed an economic blockade on the coastal area, turning it to an 'open prison' and putting lives of almost 1.5 million residents at stake.

The siege has resulted in the shortage of fuel for the strip's only power plant, which could lead to a complete blackout.

The residents are also suffering from the shortage of basic supplies including food and medicine.

Hundreds of right-wing Jewish hardliners have been attacking and hurling rocks at Palestinians and vandalizing their homes in al-Khalil since November.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has urged Israel to end Palestinians' suffering.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah has also criticized the international community for keeping silent, calling for an end to 'Israel's crimes' committed against people in the coastal region.

Egypt lashes out at Iran for Gaza support

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has reportedly accused the Islamic Republic of trying to control Arab countries in the region.

Mubarak said Thursday that Iran's vocal criticism of Egyptian indifference to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip shows that Tehran intends to control its Arab neighbors.

"The Persians are trying to devour the Arab states," Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida quoted him as saying in a meeting with members of the Egyptian ruling party.

His criticism came in the wake of Monday demonstrations by Iranian students over Egypt's refusal to open the Rafah border crossing for humanitarian convoys to deliver food, medical equipment and other essential supplies to the strip.

Students protesting in front of Egypt's Interest Section in Tehran

Tel Aviv placed the Gaza Strip under a blockade after the democratically-elected Palestinian government of Hamas took control of the coastal area in mid-June 2007.

On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council declared Israeli policies against the Palestinians and the blockade of the Gaza Strip to be "crime(s) against humanity."

Egyptian officials nevertheless summoned Iran's diplomatic representative in protest against the demonstrations, warning that they would further delay Tehran-Cairo rapprochement.

Diplomatic ties between Iran and Egypt were severed in 1979 due to Cairo's recognition of Israel and its signing of a peace treaty with Tel Aviv.

Police holding back demonstrators
in front of Egypt's Interest Section in Tehran

Iran says the only solution for the Israeli crisis is for the Palestinian nation -- the indigenous population of the land -- to hold a national referendum to determine their own fate.

Egypt often has its ambassador to Tel Aviv withdrawn due to tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians but prefers the establishment of peace with Israel as its strategy.

Despite their contrasting views, Tehran and Cairo took steps in 2007 to normalize their diplomatic relations.

Iran holds Egypt liable for Israeli crimes

A senior Iranian official says Egyptian support for Israel makes Cairo accountable for any crime committed in the Gaza Strip.

"Egypt has closed the Rafah crossing and tightened the siege (of Gaza)," said Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, a member of the Iranian Assembly of Experts, at Tehran's Friday prayers.

Tel Aviv placed the Gaza Strip under a blockade after the democratically-elected Palestinian government of Hamas took control of the coastal area in mid-June 2007.

The UN Human Rights Council declared on Tuesday that Israeli policies against the Palestinians and the blockade of the Gaza Strip as "crime(s) against humanity."

In response to the UN report, Israeli ambassador in Geneva Aharon Leshno Yaar said Tel Aviv "remains committed to reinforcing areas in which we are succeeding and bettering those areas that need improvement."

According to UN human rights rapporteur Richard Falk, however, Tel Aviv was responding to what he described as low-level criticism by "normally cautious UN officials". Falk suggested Israeli crimes to be worthy of an International Criminal Court investigation.

Despite its objection, Israel was forced to permit deliveries of humanitarian aid and gas to Gaza on Tuesday after days of full closure of all Gaza crossings.

On Friday, Ayatollah Khatami said "certain Arab leaders" should also be investigated by international courts for aiding and abetting Tel Aviv in its crimes.

"Certain Arab leaders should be tried as 'betrayers' for all Israeli crimes in the occupied lands and the Gaza Strip," the Iranian cleric continued.

Records show that since the imposition of the blockade, 260 patients have died, 75 percent of Palestinian kids are suffering from malnutrition, and 40 percent of ambulances have stopped working due to the lack of gas, Khatami added.

The Hamas movement has urged the international community to force Israel to lift the siege after the release of the UN Human Rights report.

"If the UN says that the tight siege on the Gaza Strip is a war crime, we wonder why Arab leaders do not demand the reopening of the Rafah crossing," said Barhoum.

The Rafah crossing connects Egypt to the Gaza Strip inhabited by some 1.5 million Palestinians.

... Payvand News - 12/12/08 ... --

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