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50 Palestinians detained after anti-siege demonstration moves to Erez crossing

Feb. 25, 2008 11:04 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 25, 2008 11:04 A.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - The Israeli army arrested 50 Palestinians for throwing stones on Monday at Erez border crossing after they formed a human chain to protest the ongoing Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of Gazans linked arms, stretching along Salah Addin Street, which runs much of the length of the Strip. The protest was organized by the Popular Committee Against the Siege.

When the day's main rally ended peacefully, a few hundred young people then moved to the Erez crossing, throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.

The soldiers fired back with live ammunition as well and tear gas. No casualties were been reported.

The Israeli army later confirmed that they have arrested 50 alleged stone-throwers near Erez crossing.

Organizers had expected 50,000 people to attend the days actions.

Rami Abdo, the spokesperson of the Popular Committee the protest is continuation of the Committee's activities to reject the Israeli-imposed siege. He pointed out that several national and popular organizations as well as schools, universities and government ministries are taking part in the human chain.

"We have been stunned by the large number of people who joined the protest," he added.

He stressed that the human chain is a peaceful action aimed at visually representing the suffering of the people of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli radio stations broadcasting in Arabic said that the Israeli authorities have ordered the soldiers to avoid violence when they encounter the human chain.

However, the Israeli military commandeered the frequency of one local Palestinian radio station, broadcasting warnings to Palestinians not to attempt to break through the border.

"Some organizations are trying to take advantage of civilians and use them as human shields which the army will not allow," the spokesperson of the Israeli army said on the local Gazan radio station.

***Updated at 16:44 Bethlehem time

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