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World 'Swim with Gaza' campaign extends solidarity to Palestinians

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By Burak BirBRIGHTON, England (AA) — People around the world are taking part in an international swimming campaign to raise awareness on the situation in the Gaza Strip, a small region under Israeli blockade since 2007.

By Burak Bir

BRIGHTON, England (AA) — People around the world are taking part in an international swimming campaign to raise awareness on the situation in the Gaza Strip, a small region under Israeli blockade since 2007.

From Chile to South Africa, Portugal to Ireland, thousands are attending a campaign on Saturday to express their solidarity with Gazans as part of the "Swim With Gaza" campaign, partnering up with the local Tantish Swimming Academy, which holds annual swimming festivals on the northern Gazan beach.

The blockade that approximately 2.3 million Gazans have faced for 16 years has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the small strip of land on the Mediterranean Sea coast, while it is mostly surrounded by Israel except for its southern border with Egypt.

The UN has repeatedly pointed out the worsening situation in Gaza, stressing that the Israeli blockade has been "creating a human tragedy hard to describe."

The campaign is being held to pointed out that the sea is only free space for fun in Gaza that is being held isolated from the rest of the world.

Brighton, a British seaside resort city, is among many cities around the world hosting Swim With Gaza, attended by dozens of people in Palestine T-shirts and waving Palestinians flags. Numbering at roughly 40, they arrived at Brighton Beach at about 3 p.m. local time (1400GMT)

Speaking to Anadolu, Russel Johns, 63, pointed out that the blockade has continued for years and said this was their "chance show solidarity with children especially in Gaza."

"We know the beach is one of the few places that people in Gaza can get away from the daily life and the unfortunately frequent bombings by Israel," added Johns, a campaigner from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

He noted that this was the first time the event has been held at the international level and said he hoped it would be held and grow every year.

'Blockade must be lifted'

Ann Hallam, 79, was also taking part in the event, expressing her support for Palestinians in Gaza.

"They are living on of the world's biggest open-air prisons," said the 79-year-old who is also a member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign group

"Their human rights have been denied, their medical rights have been denied, their existence is being whittled away," she added.

Stressing that "the blockade must be lifted," she said the UK government has long been "complicit in this occupation."

"It was the people of Palestine who inspired us to be absolutely focused and patient," she said. "We get a lot of strength from Palestinians and I hope they get strength from us today."

Also speaking to Anadolu, 29-year-old Matt, who preferred to mention only his first name, said he has always supported the Palestinian cause.

"As being Irish myself from Belfast and I've been taught from the young age to have a lot of solidarity with the people of Palestine," he said.

Matt underlined that Palestinians should be free to govern their own land, fish on their own waters, and travel to where they want go.

"I think it is a basic human right and it is not up to a government of any other foreign nations to decide where Palestinian people should or should not make a living," he added.

The event was live-streamed by campaigners.

Kaynak: AA / Kültür Sanat

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