Dozens of protesters mobilized by Amnesty International (AI) Taiwan and several other civic groups in the country staged a demonstration near the Israeli representative office in Taipei yesterday, demanding that Israel stop its military actions in the Gaza Strip.
“We cannot but feel the horror of the effects of so much bombardment and ground fire on the Gaza civilians, who have already suffered gravely from your government's blockade of even humanitarian aid and supplies,” said AI Taiwan chairman Peter Huang (黃文雄), reading an open letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres in English, before handing the letter to a staffer at the Israeli office.
“This does not mean, of course, that our feelings of moral horror does not extend to the lost lives of Israeli civilians,” Huang said. “On the contrary, it is for the sake of preventing more lives from being lost and for the possible beginning of a more durable peace that we're writing to you.”
Israel launched its latest offensive on Dec. 27 in an attempt to halt rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled territory.
According to wire reports, 22 Israelis have been killed in Hamas rocket attacks, while more than 760 Palestinians — mostly civilians — have lost their lives since Israel began the mass offensive.
Hung Hung (鴻鴻), a poet, read three poems during the protest — one by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai that tells how Israeli civilians suffer from Hamas attacks, another by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish that recounts how a Palestinian mother mourns the death of her son after the Israeli offensive, and a third one that he wrote himself, describing his joy upon learning of the withdrawal of Israeli troops in 2002.
The reading was followed by a minute of silence for those who have lost their lives in the conflict.
A staffer from the Israeli representative office came out of the building to accept the protest letter from the demonstrators.
Meanwhile, Israeli Representative Raphael Gamzou criticized AI for not fully disclosing its intention when it asked for a meeting, but added that his invitation for an open dialogue remained.
Gamzou said the group failed to conduct itself with “integrity” and that the Israeli office only found out about the demonstration from local law enforcement authorities.
He said that by lodging a protest in front of the Israeli office, AI had already shown its bias.
The office had expected the group to present an anti-violence petition.
Gamzou said although he respects the group, he declined to meet with AI officers because he refused to be an “actor in their sitcom” as he was never informed by the group it was planning to stage a demonstration.
During the eight-year-long Hamas-initiated attacks against Israeli civilians, he said he never saw “any expressions of anger and sadness from Amnesty International Taiwan or any local NGOs.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU
VOTERS’ CHOICE: The DPP’s Chen and independent candidate Huang conceded defeat before 7:20pm, with Chiang pledging to remain humble and do his best Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday won the Taipei mayoral election, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate defeating the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) pick, former minister of health and welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), and former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), an independent. After polling stations closed at 4pm, the Taipei Election Commission issued a preliminary estimate that voter turnout in the city was about 64 percent, slightly lower than in 2018. Chiang, 43, is to be the youngest Taipei mayor ever, with the KMT regaining the capital after eight years. Chen had an exceptionally high national approval rating when he was head
A naval landing craft on Thursday sank near Kinmen County after wet weather and rough seas flooded its cabin, the Naval Fleet Command said. The vessel, called Landing Craft Mechanized 1326, had completed transport and replenishment missions in the county and was returning to Taiwan proper when surging waves flooded the cabin, the navy said in a statement. The craft’s five crew members tried to bail out the water to no avail, the Navy said. The landing craft eventually sank off Kinmen’s Liaoluo Bay (料羅灣) at 5:18pm, although all crew members rescued, it said, adding that the precise cause of the sinking
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Chiang was effective in running a cautious campaign to avoid making mistakes, waiting for other candidates to slip up, an analyst said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei Mayor-elect Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) stood out among his rivals due to his energy, his die-hard supporters and his relative openness to discuss issues such as same-sex marriage, a political analyst said yesterday. Chiang’s campaign was also aided by his family’s background in politics, which helped him garner greater support in Taipei where there is a large KMT base, said the analyst, who chose to remain anonymous. “Chiang is also not a typical KMT member when it comes to certain issues, such as gay marriage, and his more open stance widened his support base — particularly among young
TOURIST HOTSPOT: The air charter services would drastically cut travel time to the world-renowned beach with its service to Caticlan, instead of Kalibo Royal Air Philippines is to launch next month direct flights between Taiwan and the Philippine city of Caticlan, a closer entry point to tourist hotspot Boracay. The airline will initially offer six charter flights between Dec. 26 and Jan. 15, with the flight frequency increasing to one per day during the Lunar New Year and winter holidays from Jan. 19 to Feb. 8, it announced at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. The charter flight services will drastically cut travel time to Boracay to about two hours and 45 minutes. Before the new route is launched, travelers from Taiwan who