BEIRUT: Activists in Beirut launched a week-long protest at Martyrs Square Wednesday in solidarity with the people of Palestine, hours after Israeli forces entered South Lebanon. More than 100 people gathered to express solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who in recent weeks have experienced an unprecedented Israeli military assault.
As the sit-in commenced in Beirut, Israeli continued to escalate its military action in the Gaza Strip killing 18 Palestinians including 9 members of one family who died in an air strike on a home in Gaza. Growing rage throughout the Middle East towards Israeli military actions in the Occupied Territories was exemplified through the Beirut action in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Atallah Salim spokes person for the ongoing Beirut action, addressing the Lebanese media. [Photo: Sarah Hunter, Beirut]
“We condemn the barbaric acts of the Israeli Amry and we see it as our duty in Lebanon to protest in support of the Palestinian people,” said Atallah Salim, spokesperson for the protest, which was organized by a coalition of Palestinian and Lebanese organizations and parties.
“Beirut is one of the major Arab cities, which has seriously experienced the brutality of the Israeli Army so we understand today what Palestinians in Gaza are facing.”
Flyers depicting current conditions facing Palestinians under occupation in Gaza were distributed to passersby, many of whom stopped to show their support for the action.
“I was passing by and was so happy to see a group of people on the streets in support of the Palestinians,” said Rouba Wehbi. “Given the governments in the Arab world are doing nothing to support the Palestinians, it will take the actions of common people to make any change.”
A participant of the sit-in listens to the radio news as Israeli troops enter the south of Lebanon. [Photo: Sarah Hunter, Beirut]
The long-standing issue of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails was also addressed by those participating in the action.
“Many Lebanese are still imprisoned by the Israelis, which is another reason for us to demonstrate against Israel,” said Hiba Awar, a student from AUB. The case of Samir Kuntar illustrates the pressing issue of Lebanese detainees in Israel as Kuntar has been held by Israel since 1979.
In the face of growing military escalation in the Gaza and now in Southern Lebanon activists participating in the sit-in pledged to remain at Martyrs’ Square for the next week and have organized a series of activities at the location including film screenings, musical performances and presentations on the Palestinian cause.
“I feel that it is important for the people in Palestine to see that people in Beirut are supporting their cause in various ways” declared Palestinian activist Rabih Salah involved in planning the sit-in. “Through this sit-in we hope to bring a small amount of hope to the people of Gaza by showing that people in Lebanon support their struggle.”
This article was written by Electronic Intifada’s Stefan Christoff for original publication in the Daily Star. For more information on the case of Samir Kuntar and other Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails visit the Samir Kuntar’s website. For updates concerning the current Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip visit the Daily Star online and EI’s special BY TOPIC section.