Jewish fascist thugs heckled, disrupted, and even violently forced their way into joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremonies held in Tel Aviv and in the north on Sunday night, April 30. Some 4,000 people participated in the event in Tel Aviv, held to commemorate the lives lost on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in the course of the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Members of a counter protest numbering several dozen right-wingers attacked them.
The ceremony featured speeches from bereaved family members — both Israeli and Palestinian — including Roni Hirshenson, who lost one soldier son in a suicide bombing and another to suicide; Meital Ofer, whose father was killed in a terror attack; Siam Nuwara Abu Nadim, whose son was shot dead by a Border Police officer; and, participating from Ramallah, Marian Saada, whose 12-year-old sister was killed after Israeli soldiers opened fire on the shared taxi she was riding in also.
The Parents Circle Families Forum, an Israeli-Palestinian group of those who have lost family members in the conflict, along with Combatants for Peace, a group of former Israeli soldiers and Palestinians militants, organized the alternative Memorial Day ceremony which has been held for the past 12 years.
This year, 225 Palestinian were prevented from attending the ceremony after Israel cancelled all entry permits following a stabbing attack carried out by an 18-year old Palestinian in Tel Aviv last week. In previous years, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has allowed hundreds of Palestinians into Israel so they could attend the event; however, this year, every single permit was canceled. Various legal petitions to have this decision overturned failed, and the organizers decided to hold a parallel event for Palestinian activists in Beit Jala, next to Bethlehem. Hundreds participated in the event there, including dozens of Israeli activists.
In a press statement responding to the Defense Ministry’s decision to rescind the entrance permits, Combatants for Peace said: “Separation, intimidation and the heated and violent public discourse push away the hand that is outstretched in peace to the other side.” The Parents Circle Families Forum added that the decision is “another assault on bereaved families and parents, who have paid the most painful price of all for the conflict. The defense minister’s decision…demonstrates the state’s unwillingness to listen to or even recognize the suffering of the other side. “Our Palestinian partners are trying to instill a message of hope into a society consumed by despair,” the statement added.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash – Joint List), who participated in the Tel Aviv ceremony, called it “outrageous and political.” MK Khenin added that this decision by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was baseless. “It’s not like they were an actual threat,” he said. “There was no security related justification for that decision.” Khenin continued that the Defense Ministry’s order reflects current government’s perception of peace-promoting movements. “They do not want to see organizations that wish to see a different future here,” he said.
In Kiryat Tivon, north of Haifa, about 150 people arrived for a similar ceremony in a local bookstore, but about 30 demonstrators, some of them masked, entered the bookstore as the event was due to begin and announced: “This evening won’t take place.” However, after a violent discussion, the event continued. In Haifa, a third ceremony was organized by the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Affairs with the participation of former Knesset speaker Abraham Burg and Arab writer Muhammad Ali Taha.