A few dozen residents of the western Negev together with some young visitors from abroad demonstrated Thursday afternoon at the Camel's Hump observation post near the Gaza Strip, next to Kibbutz Nir Am, to mark one year since Operation Cast Lead.
Leading the marchers were Sderot Mayor David Buskila and Information Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud).
The demonstrators marched from the kibbutz towards the observation post, from which dozens of balloons were released. Messages written by the children of Sderot to the children of the Gaza Strip were attached to the balloons.
The marchers sang peace songs, and said the main purpose of the march was to send a message of peace to the people of the Gaza Strip and to Hamas leaders.
"We stand here today on both sides of the border, with a message of peace between us," Buskila said. "We have released balloons with messages from the children of Sderot who experienced the Qassam rockets, and we want to say to Hamas leaders, who to our dismay continue to rearm, that we come in peace. We are too strong to leave this land, and justice is with us."
Children of Sderot send message to Gaza (Photo: Roi Idan)
The mayor also noted the demonstration that took place at the Erez border crossing, particularly the behavior of MK Taleb el-Sana (United Arab List), which drew criticism from politicians in Israel.
"It makes me sad that a member of Knesset in Israel offers himself as a spokesman for Hamas, and I believe that the Knesset must rid itself of such people," he said. "I want to remind people that Haniyeh is a member of a terror organization," he continued, referring to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
"We come with a message of peace, one year after the war," Edelstein said. "Sadly, the shooting continues, but we seek peace."
Minister Yuli Edelstein with his balloons in hand. (Photo: Roi Idan)
A Zambian member of parliament, who had come to show solidarity with the residents of Sderot, was also among the marchers. The African guest said, "I believe that these people bring a message of peace. The children of Sderot have sent messages to the children of Gaza. Israel doesn't want war; it wants to live in peace with its neighbors - the launching of rockets into Israel must cease."