Groups opposed to the drafting of Arab and Jewish youth into the Israel Defense Forces, including the Young Communist League of Israel, staged a protest rally in Nazareth on Saturday in which male and female teens marched into Spring Square in the center of town dressed in military attire and carrying toy rifles. The protesters declared the area a closed military zone and set up barbed wire and checkpoints. Other youths acted as civilians facing difficulty entering or exiting the closed area, to illustrate the difficulty young soldiers face when forced to control Palestinians. On the city’s main street, hundreds more people demonstrated against the draft.
A leaflet distributed at the rally claimed that “divisive ethnic discourse presents fertile ground for the draft plans … for disconnecting Arab-Palestinian youth from affiliation with their people, and for the disintegration of the Palestinian national minority in Israel into warring sects.” Also Jewish high school students were bused in to the event from Tel Aviv, with a petition at the rally garnering 100 Jewish signatures.
Young Communist League of Israel general secretary Amjad Shabita termed the rally a great success. “We brought the separation fence, the mine fields and the routine abuse of innocent civilians in the Palestinian occupied territories into the heart of Nazareth,” he said. Other participants, some of whom were gagged and had fake blood smeared on their faces, scuffled with the mock soldiers, as dozens held aloft signs reading, “The IDF is not worth it — mobilized against the occupation.” The theatrical rally — which also featured music and dancing — was organized by representatives of the Young Communist League of Israel. Omar Saad and Orwa Saif, key figures in the Arab-Druze opposition to military conscription, attended the rally. Saad took part in the event while on prison furlough.