Hundreds of Norwegians took to the streets on Monday, to protest Israel’s deadly attack on an international convoy carrying supplies to Gaza. Waving banners reading “Shame on you,” their numbers weren’t as large as in other cities like Istanbul (photo), but their message was the same.
The demonstrators are furious over Israel’s latest aggression, this time against what the Norwegian government has called a “humanitarian flotilla.” Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has said the convoy expressed the “frustration of the international community” over Israel’s blockade of aid to Gaza, sorely needed after Israel bombed Gaza during Christmas and New Year holidays of 2008-2009.
Three Norwegians were on board the convoy, which reportedly was boarded by Israeli soldiers who descended on it from a helicopter and then fired shots at those on board. At least 19 people were killed and more than 30 wounded. Israel has claimed they fired in self-defense.
Norway’s government has condemned the attack, with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg calling it “completely unacceptable,” and renewing demands that Israel end its blockade of Gaza.
Demonstrators on Parkveien, where the Israeli Embassy is located, also yelled for an end to the blockade and want the embassy to close. The embassy itself has been a source of conflict in the neighbourhood, just behind the Royal Palace, for years.
Norwegian police, charged with protecting embassies in Oslo, had barricaded the street and armed themselves with weapons and tear gas. Organizers of the demonstration, however, pleaded with participants to carry it out peacefully, so as not to also be guilty of violence themselves.
“Now we’ve seen that Israel is doing all it can to prevent the civilian population in Gaza from getting help,” exhorted Bård Vegar Solhjell, a member of Parliament and deputy leader of the government party SV. “Let us demonstrate peacefully.”
Petter Eide, secretary general of the aid organization Norsk Folkehjelp, also called for calm while condemning “Israel’s unmotivated murder of civilian activists after its attack on an emergency convoy on its way to Gaza.”
He demanded that the Norwegian government “hold Israel responsible for the attack.”
Demonstrators also marched in Trondheim, organized by Norsk Folkehjelp, Amnesty International, Norway’s Palestine Committee and other organizations.
“When 19 aid workers and peace activists are killed and more than 30 wounded it’s clear we have to react,” said Ronny Kjelsberg of the Reds party in Sør-Trøndelag. “That’s what’s happening around the world, and here in Trondheim, too.”
Views and News staff