Activists hold Gaza peace rally in Tokyo

by Kazuaki Nagata

As the number of victims continues to climb in Gaza, a crowd of more than 1,500 people rallied in Tokyo on Saturday to call for an immediate ceasefire in the war-torn area.

Despite the chilly and windy weather, the rally, organized by various nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, attracted about 1,500 people, organizers said.

“We cannot definitely tolerate the indiscriminate attacks. Whether it’s Israeli or Hamas, we cannot put up with an attack that involves regular civilians,” Sonoko Kawakami of Amnesty International Japan told the participants at the foot of Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward.

Palestinian officials say more than 800 people, including children, had become victims of the attack.

On Dec. 27, Israel began launching airstrikes on the Gaza Strip to retaliate against Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel.

The rally started from the foot of Tokyo Tower and marched through the Roppongi entertainment district, giving the participants plenty of time to express their hopes for peace and their anger toward the violence of an Israeli counterattack that has claimed innocent civilians in the turbulent Gaza strip.

Sachiko Fujikawa of Yokohama said she participated in the rally because she is upset that innocent children have been killed.

“I myself have two little children. Just imagining that children (in Gaza) are put in such a tragic situation, it’s intolerable,” she said.

Afterward, the organizers held a symposium in which hundreds of attendees learned of the situation in Gaza and heard the accounts of Gaza residents.

A 35-year-old man activist living in a refugee camp said his house was destroyed in the attacks.

He said he has three children who have to live in the shadow of intimidation on a daily basis and that there is not enough milk to feed them.

A Norwegian who works for the Norwegian medical team at a hospital in Gaza said in an telephone interview with Campaign for the Children of Palestine, a nonprofit organization, that the situation “is really terrible” because of the lack of food and equipment.

He said he knows that there are supplies coming to the area, but because the distribution system is insufficient, enough supplies are not being distributed.

“The most important thing now is to end the occupation and the bombing,” he said.