Hundreds of Palestinian and Israeli activists marched from the Palestinian village of Hussan to the main settler checkpoint in the southern West Bank Friday afternoon, January 15, protesting against Israel’s settlements and demanding an end to the 47-year occupation.
The protest, which took place in an area of the West Bank under full Israeli control and where settlements are situated directly adjacent to Palestinian villages, was accompanied by Israeli army and Border Police forces along its entire route. The march was planned to follow the southern West Bank’s main north-south highway, so that it would be in plain view of heavy traffic, both that of Israeli settlers and Palestinians.
At the start of the demonstration, Israeli police arrested one of the Palestinian organizers, a member of Combatants for Peace, for reasons that were not apparent. Among the marchers were Hadash members of Knesset from the Joint List Dov Khenin and Abdallah Abu Ma’aruf, as well as Meretz secretary general and former MK Mossi Raz. The marchers held signs demanding an end to the occupation, and promoting peace and dialogue. Some of the signs declared that peace is not just a dream, and, “it won’t end until we talk.” The activists also carried Hadash signs and banner in solidarity with Ezra Nawi, an Israeli peace activist arrested last week by Israeli police.
“This occupation is an ongoing injustice for both nations,” MK Abu Ma’aruf said. “This protest demonstrates that there is another way, a path of peace and hope and not despair. You can’t find another occupation like this in the 21st century. We need to end the occupation and create a Palestinian state along ’67 borders — two states for two peoples.” Combatants for Peace co-director Suleiman Khatib called on both Palestinian and Israeli activists to join the monthly protests marching on the “Tunnels’ Checkpoint” near the Bethlehem-area town of Beit Jala. “We all know that there is no military solution,” Khatib said. “We need a third way, which is not just Israel and not just Palestine — a path of dialogue and joint nonviolent struggle.”
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