Hundreds block the road to Israel's defense Ministry as the IDF injure Israeli peace activist
From David Merhav
Hundreds of demonstrators protested today (Saturday 27/12/03) in front of the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. The demonstration was initiated as solidarity after the Israeli Occupation Forces injured badly a young peace activist by firing live bullets at him.
He tried to ruin the separation fence near the village of Masha with his friends - members of the organization Anarchists Against the Wall and Internationals. Another young activist was arrested by the army.
The demonstration was organized by Gush Shalom - Peace Block movement, members in the Communist Party, Ta'ayush organization (Jewish-Arab Partnership), the Coalition of Women for Peace, independent activists and anarchists.
In a report sent by Gush Shalom movement, the spokesperson the group wrote: "The story of the seriously-wounded Gil Na'amati continues to make headlines. The 22 -year old kibbutznik had to be raced to hospital after he lost consciousness because of his heavy bleeding. Both his legs were operated to remove bullets; in one leg the knee was involved. The non-violent though militant protest at the Separation Fence was his first demonstration after he only two weeks ago finished his three years of military service (His father told on TV that Gil had become so rebellious exactly because of what he had seen and had to participate in at the roadblocks in the West Bank").
This Saturday evening hundreds of furious, many of them young, demonstrators blocked for hours the road in front of Tel-Aviv's Defense Ministry. Among them were also our veteran peace leaders such as former MP Uri Avnery, Attorney Leah Tzemel, Michel Warshavsky (Alternative Information Center), Ran Cohen MP (Meretz) and the historian Teddy Katz, as well as Oren Medicks and Nimrod Kerrett who both became very involved in the anti-Wall protest and the Masha camp.
According to Gush Shalom, the police came with a far too small force and succeeded to arrest eleven - among them David Tartakover, graphic artist and laureate of the prestigious Israel Prize. The others just continued their sit-in on the road.
While blocking the road slogans were chanted "We won't kill nor be killed for the settlements" (some chanted "for Zionism") and fitting placards were held up. Anarchists Against The Wall: "When they shot at Palestinians we were silent!"; the anti-militaristic New Profile organization "Purity of arms - a contradiction in terms!"; from the Gush Shalom store: "The Evil Wall Must Fall!" The GLBT militant group Kvisa Schora (Black Laundry) was represented alongside youth from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality and the Israeli Communist Youth League.
"When out of nowhere suddenly the prominent anarchist activist Yonathan Pollack appeared (straight from the Ariel Police Station where he had been held since yesterday) it was decided to end the demonstration and march collectively to the Tel-Aviv (Yarkon) Police Station and demand there the release of the detained activists," reported Gush Shalom in an international press release.
"The police station was sort of besieged, and through the mediation of lawyer Yoni Lerman and Leah Tzemel it was agreed to lift the siege in return for the release of all activists," it added.
These new events mark the beginning of a higher, new, stage in the development of the anti-occupation movement within Israel. More and more young Israelis are willing to take the risk and fight for their future even by risking their lives. The direct actions in front of the Defense Ministry and within the Occupied Territories are a symbol of determination of young Israelis to put an end to Sharon's war government. The fact that it was the first time in which the Israeli unorganized left appeared from nowhere with new faces and young militants is a shining light for all those who are fighting for justice, self-determination and freedom for the Palestinians.
The social tensions in Israel are deepening as young people are not willing to participate in Sharon's cycle of blood and agony. The fact that in the first time hundreds of people blocked the road to Israel's army headquarters reflects the growing tendency of refusal, not only among senior officers like the reservists and the pilots, but also among Israeli citizens who are saying "no more!" to a reality of bloodbath.
We urge the international human rights organizations, the leftist parties, groupings and tendencies, the trade unions, the anti-globalization movement and all those who are willing to fight for self-determination to the Palestinians and the end of the occupation, to organize protests, to send protest letters to the Israeli Embassies, to advance mass campaigns and initiate protest rallies in order to stop the witch-hunt and persecution of Israeli peace activists.