Over 500 Israelis and Palestinians, among them Hadash and Communist Party activists, took part in a march last Friday, March 4, to mark International Women’s Day and to call for an end to the occupation and violence. The march began at the Husan junction on Route 60 — the southern West Bank’s main north-south artery that connects Jerusalem, Beit Jala, the Gush Etzion settlements, and Hebron — and ended the “Tunnel Checkpoint,” where a demonstration was held.
The demonstrators chanted slogans against gender violence in Israel and Palestine, as well as against home demolitions and for the two-state solutions. At one point they released hundreds of balloons over the Israel’s Separation Wall. Since last December this was the fourth such monthly joint demonstration organized by “Standing Together,” which includes anti-occupation groups such as “Combatants for Peace” and Israeli-Palestinian Parents’ Circle Families Forum. In contrast to the past marches, this time Israeli police and occupation soldiers overseeing the event made no arrests.
Among the speakers at the demonstration were Basma al-Afendi from the Dheisha Refugee Camp, a nurse and member of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, who drew a connection between workers’ struggles, women’s struggles and an end to the occupation. “Women are made to stand at checkpoints for three hours every day on their way to work in Jerusalem – this is a heavy price to pay for one’s livelihood,” she said. “Women in Palestine are the leaders of the struggle for equality and independence,” added Huda Abuarquob, Regional Director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP). “Our children pay the price of the conflict, and we want to protect them. Our message is that justice is necessary for Palestine, and security is necessary for Israel. We can’t have one without the other.”