> Protest against Israeli actions

Dec. 29, 2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO *** For about an hour during the evening rush hour, protesters against the bombing of Palestinians in Gaza by Israeli forces blocked the intersection of Market and Montgomery streets, completely stopping traffic in that area of downtown. *** The demonstration started when they gathered in front of and then across the street from the office of US Sen. Dianne Feinstein for a candlelight vigil, to show opposition for her support of Israel. They then marched over to Union Square and protested across the street from Macy's; then on to the Powell St. turnaround and across the street from the San Francisco Shopping Center, where they stopped and shouted "while you go shopping, bombs are dropping!" *** Many times in the past Hamas has rejected any peace with Israel or recognizing Israel's right to exist. *** In Jan. 2006 the Palestinian political party Hamas won a majority of seats in parliamentary elections over their rivals the Fatah party. Most pundits agree that this was because many Palestinians see Fatah as corrupt. The international community responded to this exercise in democracy and self rule by placing an embargo on all aid to Palestine a month later, a move seen as undermining Hamas' ability to govern and greatly increasing hardship for an already long-suffering population. *** After numerous bloody clashes and fighting, in June of 2008 Israel and Hamas agreed on a cease fire. Hamas agreed to cease hostilities with Israel if the embargo was lifted. *** During the six-month cease fire, rocket attacks on Israel dropped from more than 1,800 in a six-month period to 37 during the truce, with no one taking responsibility for those. The blockade was partially lifted, with Israel allowing as much as 90 trucks to enter the country per day, but far below the estimated 500-600 trucks entering the Gaza each day before the blockade. On Nov. 4, 2008 Israeli troops crossed the border into Gaza, then killed six Hamas members while raiding what they claimed was a facility that was hosting a smuggling tunnel. *** Hamas declared this incursion to be a "massive breach of the truce" with Israel and rocket attacks increased substantially after that point. On Dec. 13, 2008, Hamas agreed to stop the rocket attacks if Israel would end the blockade but Israel rejected those terms. *** On Dec. 20 Hamas announced that they would not be extending the cease fire, citing the continued Israeli border closures as the primary reason. *** On Dec. 23 a Hamas leader said they might be willing to renew the truce under the original terms, but that same day an Israeli airstrike into Gaza killed three Palestinian militants and the Palestinians launched more than 30 rockets, then firing more than 60 mortars and rockets into Israel the next day. *** On Dec. 26 Israel reopened five border crossings between Israel and Gaza to allow humanitarian relief supplies through but about a dozen rocket and mortar attacks continued against Israel that day. *** On Dec. 27 Israel launched massive air strikes, killing between 200 and 300 people in one day. *** The Plastinian death toll in the weeks that followed is estimated at a total of 1,400, with 14 Israelis killed, including four civilians. *** All images are copyright 2008 by Thomas K. Pendergast