Combatants for Peace organized a march last Saturday evening, June 27, in which several hundred Palestinian and Israeli activists took part to protest the looming annexation by Israel in the occupied West Bank.
The march started at the Dead Sea Junction with the entrance to Jericho, known by Israelis as the Almog Junction and from there proceeded along Route 90. The march was supported by an alliance of Palestinian and Israeli organizations working against the occupation, and was participated in by leading Fatah member Jibril Rajoub and the Palestinian Governor of Jericho, Jihad Abu Al-Asal.
From the start the Israeli army tried to stop the march and close the area where the participants initially gathered. However, the activists managed to move forward, carrying pictures of children from the Jordan Valley and carrying signs reading “Palestinian Lives Matter”. Protesters also carried images of George Floyd and Iyad Halak, a young autistic Palestinian who was shot to death by Israeli border policemen in occupied East Jerusalem last month.
When the nonviolent demonstrators reached Route 90 linking Israeli settlements, Israeli troops violently attacked them and arrested a Palestinian participant, Combatants for Peace activist Nazih Rammah from Ramallah. He was released three hours later.
The Governor of Jericho, Jihad Abu Al-Asal, thanked the attendees and stressed that protests against the occupation must continue until its end and a just and comprehensive peace is achieved for both peoples. Abu Al-Asal said, that “the annexation of Palestinian territories would be like pouring fuel on a fire. It is contrary to the interests of the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples. The only interest of all of us is peace.”
Tuly Flint, Israeli coordinator of Combatants for Peace told those gathered, “After many years of war, of commanding larger and larger units, and of active participation in many military operations, I realized that I had no doubt that the way of weapons and force was not working, and that one people should not rule over another.”
Combatants for Peace Palestinian coordinator Jamil Qassas delivered a powerful speech in which he related how: “During the first Intifada we fought each other, as all of us – Palestinians and Israelis – saw the situation only from the point of view of our own side. Today we know that there is another way – a common battle against violence, occupation and annexation. The Annexation Plan prevents me from having the hope that my children and grandchildren will have a different life from the one I had. Instead of planning one-sided measures that lead to despair and violence, I suggest Israelis recognize my existence here with respect. Another way is still possible. Let us build together a shared future of honor among neighbors instead of cemeteries. I am determined to keep struggling for such a future. The annexation plan announced by Netanyahu will cause the displacement of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of food and water security for all residents of the West Bank, not to mention destroying any possibility of establishing a Palestinian state.”