Some 30,000 persons took part in the Women Wage Peace rally in Jerusalem’s Independence Park on Sunday night, October 8. The rally was the culmination of a peace march that began two weeks ago, on September 24, and in which thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women, many of whom have themselves been personally affected by the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, participated in their joint call for peace. The march began at various locations around the country, and passed through Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
The message of the Women Wage Peace organization throughout he entire march was “We’re not stopping without an agreement” between Israelis and Palestinians. What exactly this agreement will look like – will it include, for example, an independent Palestinian state and the evacuation of settlements, or alternatively, a bi-national Jewish-Arab state? – these are questions for Israel’s elected leaders to decide, according to the mission statement of Women Wage Peace. The march, which began its last day’s leg on Sunday morning near Jericho, witnessed thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women trekking through a biblical desert landscape as they descended through the arid hills and converged on the shores of the Jordan River. There, the women, many of whom were dressed in white, erected a “peace tent” named for Hagar and Sarah, scriptural mothers of Ishmael and Isaac, the half-brother patriarchs of Muslims and Jews. From there they ascended to Jerusalem and concluded their march for peace with a mass protest outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on Sunday evening.
“We must come together to be able to reach the peace that we all want,” said Michal Froman, who was stabbed by a Palestinian in January 2016 while pregnant with her fifth child, during an interview with AFP last week, continuing that she wants to “believe in peace.” Huda Abuarquob, one of the organizers and a Palestinian from Hebron in the West Bank, said: “This march is not just another protest, but a way of saying that we want peace, and together we can obtain it.”
A 22-meter-high (70 feet) dress with a circumference of 60 meters, reputed to be the world’s largest, was displayed for the first time near the Dead Sea in honor of the women as they walked past. Israeli artist and activist Adi Yekutieli created the dress in 2007 to highlight the plight of “chained” women whose husbands refuse them a Jewish bill of divorce. It was never displayed in public before Sunday.
Women Wage Peace was founded following the brutal 50-day Gaza war of 2014 when more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians. Last year the organization held a similar march, also near Jericho. In 2015, these women activists fasted outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence for 50 days, to mark one year since the 2014 Gaza war.
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