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June 24, 2017

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Rare expression of local concern for an international conflict

Demonstrators rallied in front of the building of Israel's representative office in Taiwan on Wednesday to protest Israel's air strikes on the Gaza Strip, calling on the Middle Eastern nation to end the offensive that has so far resulted in over one hundred casualties, including civilians and children.

While the protesters only numbered in the dozens, the demonstration was a relatively rare expression of local concern for an international conflict. Holding banners that condemned the"slaughtering of Gaza people" and chanting slogans such as "Let Gaza live" and "We condemn Israel's crackdown on Gaza people," the protesters maintained a simple argument that characterized the strikes as senseless attacks on the innocent.

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, protesters, led by the Labor Party, called for Israel to "immediately end strikes on Gaza," "the United States to stop military assistance to Israel" and for "all peace-loving people to take actions to boycott Israel over its long-term crackdown on the people in Gaza."

In response to the protests, Israel's top envoy to Taiwan Simona Halperin defended the air strikes on the Gaza Strip as necessary to protect the Israeli people.

Halperin pointed out that the Israeli government was willing to accept a cease-fire proposal by Egypt that later collapsed due to its rejection by Palestinian militant group Hamas, which said it was left out of the negotiations.

Halperin told reporters earlier that said Israel is not fighting against the Palestinian people but against "Palestinian terrorists."

"Israel will not stop its targeting of the terrorists and the (rocket) launchers if there are no guarantees that they are going to stop," she said.

The weeklong airstrikes came after the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers who were hitchhiking near a West Bank settlement in June and the death of a Palestinian teen in early July, which is widely believed to have been a retaliation killing.

The triggering point for the strikes was the escalating rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas in recent weeks. Thousands of mortar rockets were launched from Gaza into densely populated Israeli cities as far away as Tel Aviv.

Designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S., the European Union and several other countries, Hamas has refused to recognize the existence of the state of Israel.

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