Beirut sit-in in solidarity with Gaza and against the presence of foreign troops in Lebanon

November 22nd, 2006 | Posted in Solidarity, War and Terror

Gaza solidarity Beirut sit-in

Beirut, 20 November – Even as the country prepared for mass street protests aimed at changing the composition of the government, activists in Beirut held a spirited protest in solidarity with the besieged people of Gaza and against the presence of UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon.

Around 30 people staged the sit-in outside the headquarters of the European Union (EU), many of whose countries have contributed troops to the enlarged UNIFIL presence in southern Lebanon.

“The European Union must recognize where the problem is,” said Sara, who helped organize the protest. “We don’t understand why they are in the south of Lebanon, they are not needed there. On the other hand, it is clear that peacekeepers are needed to protect people in Gaza, who are now being killed by Israel,” she explained.

“They call the UNIFIL troops ‘peace-keepers’. But if Israel decided to attack again, I really doubt they would stop them. They certainly aren’t preventing Israel from violating the ceasefire agreement on an almost daily basis,” said Dia, another participant in the rally. (For a log of major violations of the ceasefire,

The rally came in response to the attacks being carried out by Israeli Occupation Forces on the people of Gaza, including a night time assault on Beit Hanoun on 9 November which killed about 20 people and wounded more during indiscriminate shelling of houses. (For weekly reports of the massacres:

The group, including many Palestinians, chanted, clapped their hands and sang, waving and giving the victory sign to cars who honked their support.

“I didn’t expect so many people,” said Sara. “We pulled this together on very short notice, and it is good to see so many people coming out for the Palestinians during this difficult time in Lebanon.”

The picket came the day after Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of the popular Hezbollah party, called for his supporters to get ready to participate in disciplined, non-sectarian rallies demanding a more representative government, free of US hegemony. The previous week, Hezbollah and other Cabinet Ministers withdrew from the government. If two more Ministers resign, the government will be constitutionally illegal. Many in the country are fearful that, in the current context of polarization fostered by the string of assasinations in 2005 and the July 2006 attack by Israel, the tense situation could disintegrate into sectarian violence.

Dia was less impressed by the turn-out. She agreed that people had their minds elsewhere, adding, “If people really wanted to show their support for the Palestinians, anyway they would start with the conditions of Palestinians in Lebanon.”

The UN counts almost 395,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, some of whom have been there since 1948. They have too often been used as pawns in local, regional and international power games. The majority continue to live in 12 over-crowded and squalid refugee camps, and are denied basic civil, social and economic rights in Lebanon, including the right to work in many trades and professions and access to public social services. (An important new report on Palestianian refugees, which transcribes the discussions about concerns and priorities of the Palestinian diaspora at some 100 popular meetings in Palestinian refugee camps and diaspora communities around the world, including Lebanon, can be found at

“The two issues – Palestinians inside [Israel] and Palestinians in Lebanon – are not often linked, due to the sensitivity of the Palestinian issue in Lebanon,” said Dia.

While upholding the refugees’ right to return to Palestine is often given as the justification for refusing to regularize their status, a more important aspect is linked to the confessional nature of the Lebanese government. Representation follows religious affiliation, and according the largely Sunni Palestinians full political rights, would affect the current balance.

Eventually soldiers arrived at the sit-in. Outnumbering the protestors and wielding rifles, they asked the crowd to disperse. The activists showed little will to put up a fight and the picket quietly broke up. Further actions made be planned in the coming weeks. 

Tadamon! in Beirut

1 Comment »

all my respect,
and solidariety.

vik from Milan

Comment by guerrilla radio — November 26th, 2006 @ 9:27 AM

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