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Gaza memorializes war victims

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A siren sounded throughout the Gaza Strip to memorialize the Palestinian victims of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead one year ago.

The Hamas-ordered siren sounded on Sunday at the exact time that Israeli’s military operation began in Gaza one year ago, according to reports. Some Gaza residents stood during the sounding of the siren.

Memorial activities are scheduled to last 22 days, the same amount of time as the war in Gaza, according to reports.

Also on Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is "deeply concerned that neither the issues that led to this conflict nor its worrying aftermath are being addressed."

Ban called on Israel to end the blockade on the coastal strip saying, "The quality and quantity of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza is insufficient, broader economic and reconstruction activity is paralyzed, and the people of Gaza are denied basic human rights." He said the fate of the Gazan Palestinians and the well-being of Israelis are "intimately connected."

Meanwhile, an aid convoy headed to Gaza via Egypt was held up in Jordan after being refused permission to enter Egypt. The Viva Palestina aid convoy, led by British lawmaker George Galloway to mark the anniversary of the start of the Gaza war, reportedly is made up of 450 human rights activists and 200 vehicles carrying hundreds of tons of medicine and medical equipment, as well as basic food supplies..

Egypt requires the convoy to enter the country through the el-Arish port on the Mediterranean coast and then to enter Gaza through Rafah. This would require entering Israeli waters as well as coordinating entry with the United National Relief and Works Agency. Convoy leaders want to enter via the Red Sea.

Galloway told reporters Sunday that he is negotiating with Egypt and several third countries.

A second human rights protest, the Gaza Freedom March, is scheduled to take place on Dec. 31.

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