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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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Despite crackdown, Palestinians organize for long-term peace
an article by Waging Nonviolence. It appears here courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

Conflict has erupted in Israel and Palestine after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers early last week, whom the Israelis say were kidnapped by Hamas. The Western media, for its part, has focused on the street battles between young Palestinians and the Israeli military, rushing to print photos of young Palestinian men throwing rocks and of masked Hamas militants armed at a press conference. However, these images are far from the whole story. On the ground Palestinian groups are acting to turn this rage into long-lasting nonviolent organizing.


Issa Amro from Youth Against the Settlements speaking in Hebron in 2012 (Flickr/jstreetdotorg)

click on photo to enlarge

Last week, the Israeli military sent tanks and troop reinforcements to the border between Israel and the Gaza strip and began heavy airstrikes that have killed at least seven Palestinians — the most recent development in the crackdown on Palestinian life that followed the disappearance of three settler teenagers approximately two weeks ago. Even before the bodies of the teens were found last Monday evening, Israeli had launched a large-scale incursion into West Bank cities, raiding some 2,200 homes, arresting 419 Palestinians and killing at least six.

The discovery of the boys’ bodies, elicited sorrow, fury and — for some Israelis — a desire for revenge. Tuesday evening, crowds of Israelis chanted “death to Arabs” as they stormed through the streets of Jerusalem. The next morning, the body of 16-year- old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khaider, who had been seen being forced into a car the night before, was found in a forest. In many ways, the violence and loss is unsurprising for Palestinians: It is, after all, an everyday reality here. But the intensity of the raids, scale of arrests, and very visible increase in threatened and actual violence from right-wing Israelis means the situation now feels different. For those working in the resistance movements, these are challenging and uneasy times. But they are also far from hopeless.

Jamal Juma, the coordinator of Stop the Wall, a coalition of Palestinian organizations, has experienced crises like these before.

“Stop the Wall started in 2002, in a very difficult and bloody situation,” he said. “We had massacres all over Palestine. But, despite that, we started organizing people in popular resistance.” 

“At the moment,” he continued, “we are experiencing very brutal invasions, which remind us of the invasions that happened in 2002. They are sending a strong message to Palestinians: that nothing will be tolerated.”

The response in the streets, Juma maintains, has largely been neither obedient nor violent, but careful: marches and protests rather than “people shooting each other.” When the Israeli army launched Operation Brother’s Keeper last week in Hebron, groups like Youth Against Settlements mobilized by supporting families whose homes had been raided with calls and solidarity visits — essential practical support in the context of enormous isolation and fear.

Next week, beginning on July 9, the Stop the Wall coalition will launch what it hopes will be a broader and more unifying campaign. Scheduled to begin on the anniversary of the International Criminal Court’s decision on the illegality of the separation wall, the campaign will focus on two areas. In Hebron, a city fractured and closed off by Israeli settlements, the aim is explicitly to “lift the siege” through a burst of nonviolent demonstrations. In the Jordan Valley, where full Israeli control and settlement activity mean home demolitions are a constant threat, Palestinians plan to launch the Popular Council to Save the Jordan Valley, which seeks to unite the work of activists working across the region to document violations, coordinate resistance and support in the case of resistance, and mobilize media coverage.

[Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.]

(This article is continued in the discussionboard)

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How are the Palestinians responding to the latest attacks?,

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LATEST READER COMMENT:

CPNN has received the following Statement from the National Coalition of  
Christian Organizations in Palestine on the situation: Support Gaza’s Right to Life

“Justice and security are two sides of the same coin. Israel’s security can never be an excuse for denying justice to the Palestinian people.”

In the spirit of the living God who sanctifies all life and in keeping with  our faith and its teachings we appeal to all people across the world to  work with their fellow citizens and governments to end Israel’s Operation Protective Edge and the brutal military siege that has been going on for the past seven years which includes a naval and economic blockade. Gaza has no port or airport thus no way to import or export its products.

This not a war. This is only vengeance and collective punishment. A responsible authority works to stop useless vengeance and violence. Instead, it fosters general atmosphere of incitement, in order to please a Palestinian hating population, and not knowing what to do, the irresponsible Israeli Authority, just kills Palestinians and demolishes their houses, in order to please their people. We acknowledge the voice  and action of the few Israelis who expressed themselves against this policy of their government.

This is not an escalation or a war. Gaza has no military or ability to protect itself other than to fire some homemade rockets. . ...more.


This report was posted on July 9, 2014.