Some 7,000 Israelis on Saturday evening protested the war in Gaza under the banner: “No more deaths – Israeli-Palestinian peace, now.” The protest took place in Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv. Slogans chanted by the protesters included “Stop the war,” “Bring the soldiers back home” and “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”
Speakers included Hadash MK Dov Khenin; an Israeli and Palestinian veteran from the organization Combatants for Peace, Yifat Solel, the head of the Meretz party’s anti-occupation forum; Professor Eva, President of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design; author Odeh Bisharat, former Hadash secretary and Dr. Julia Chaitlin, a lecturer at Sapir Academic College in Sderot and resident of kibbutz Urim, near Gaza. A member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Israel, and union organizer, Alon-Lee Green was the presenter. Channel 2 noted that left-wing Zionist party Meretz as well as the Peace Now organization had opted not to take part in the rally.
Ben Kfir of the Parents’ Circle, whose daughter was killed in a Hamas suicide bombing in 2003, also spoke, refuting the government’s claim that there is no partner for peace among the Palestinians. The speakers criticized the government for its attitude toward peace negotiations, and for resorting to war as a default policy. Demonstrators called for an end to the occupation and the siege on Gaza, and lit candles to commemorate the victims.
Roughly 300 extreme right-wing counter-protesters were on the scene trying to sabotage the main demonstration. A large police presence circled the square in order to keep the sides separate. Eight were arrested.
The invitation to the peace protest read: “On Saturday, the peace camp takes a stand at Rabin Square. The war is taking a heavy toll in lives and injuries on both sides, in destruction and horror, in bombings and rockets. We answer this by taking a stand and making a demand: end the war now!”
“We must end the war and start talking with the recognized Palestinian leadership of the West Bank and Gaza to end the occupation and the siege and to achieve independence and justice for both peoples – in Israel and Palestine.”
“Instead be being drawn, again and again, into more wars and more military actions, it is now time to lead the way to dialogue and a political settlement. There is a political solution. What price must we pay – the people of the South and the other residents of Israel, and the people of Gaza and the West Bank – until we reach that solution? Together, Jews and Arabs, we will overcome occupation and war, hatred, incitement and racism – and offer a path to life and hope.”