3 January 2009
Israel’s harshest assault on Gaza since 1967 - codenamed "Operation Cast Lead" - which began on Saturday morning and left over 250 Palestinians dead on its first day alone, was met with widespread condemnation around the world, including dissent within Israel itself.
Protest actions began already the day before Israel’s "Shock and Awe" aerial offensive, when activists demonstrated in the heart of Tel-Aviv, warning against the looming escalation and calling for peace talks with Gaza’s democratically elected officials. This demonstration, organized by the Coalition against the Siege on Gaza, was virtually ignored by the mainstream media.
On Saturday, December the 27th, as we learnt of the carnage and devastation Israeli warplanes inflicted that morning on Gaza’s already suffering, besieged population, AATW activists joined over a hundred angry protesters on a virtually-spontaneous demonstration in the city of Jaffa (many local residents have relatives in the Gaza strip, since a large part of Jaffa’s population were forced to flee to Gaza in 1948).
At the same time demonstrations broke out in dozens of cities and villages across the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem, many resulting in clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli troops. Later that evening, AATW took part in a thousand-strong, Arab-Jewish protest march through the streets of Tel Aviv, along members of other organizations. The protesters led an emotionally-charged, energetic march from the Cinemateque Square to the Ministry of Defense (video), chanting "the occupation is terrorism" and carrying signs such as "Israel’s ministers are war criminals". On the way, demonstrators were attacked without provocation by Israeli Special Patrol Unit backed by aggressive mounted policemen. Further clashes took place on the Ministry of Defense’s lawn, when anarchists knocked down security fences and attempted to block traffic on Kaplan Street. Six demonstrators were arrested, all of which were released by a judge the next day.
On Sunday, December the 28th, as the number of dead in Gaza climbed closer to 300 on the second day of Israel’s attack, AATW activists joined a demonstration in the village of Ni’ilin against Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. Israeli forces opened fire on stone-throwing youth, killing one protester and leaving another in critical condition. Arafat Rateb Khawaja, 22 years old, was shot in the back with live ammunition, and died at 14:45 in Ramallah Hospital. Mohammed Kasim Khawaja, 20 years old, was shot in the forehead with live ammunition from close range, and remains in a condition of clinical death in Ramallah hospital.
Sunday, December the 29th, evening saw AATW take part in yet another charged demonstration in central Tel Aviv, with dozens of people calling for an end to the current military operation in Gaza and to the occupation in general. Protesters held placards saying "International intervention now!" and "Israelis & Palestinians oppose war".
Monday, December the 30th, saw an extremely charged feuneral in Ni’ilin, followed by a day of clashes with the army, as well as hundreds of students voice their opposition throughout the campuses of Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem’s universities - all of which involved clashes with police and/or fascist counterdemonstrators, as well as violent arrests.
Later that day demonstrators gathered in front of the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, protesting Egyptian silence and collaboration with the Israeli offencive. The protestors were met by an extremely large contingent of border and riot police, which, when prodded by an inflamed crowed of passer-bys, used extreme violence to disperse the the demonstration. Six were arrested, all of them Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Later that afternoon, AATW members joined an Arab-Israeli protest against the atrocities in Gaza that took place in the city of Jaffa. Several hundred people raised Palestinian flags and shouted slogans of solidarity with Gaza’s population and support for the Intifada. The event culminated in a loud and disorderly march through the streets of Jaffa - at times blocking traffic - which was eventually dispersed without violence after being confronted with a large number of riot and border police reinforcements.
Tuesday 31 saw another rushly organized and enraged demonstration of about 200 people at the center of Tel Aviv. Despite the large presence of police, eggs and empty bottles were thrown at the protesters.
On Friday, January the 2d, early in the morning activists of the AAtW out smart the police, shortly blocked the road and staged a street theater of a "die in" at the entrance to the military air port of Tel Aviv - where the pilots and other high ranking are flayed daily to the far bases in the south and north for the daily war crimes. 18 comrades were arrested and the shamed police avenged by asking the court judge for three days jail time for them being dangerous and for "investigation". The judge order their stay in jail for the two days weekend (till Sunday morning).
Tel Aviv (Sdeh Dov airport) demonstration Friday 2.1.2008 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpeC...
*18 activists from ’Anarchists Against the Wall" were arrested this morning, as they blocked the entrance to the Sde Dov air force base.*
*The demonstrators lay on the entrance road to the base and pretended to be dead in opposition to the killing in Gaza.*
About 20 activists from ’Anarchists Against the Wall’ arrived today, Friday morning, at 6am, to the air force base Sde Dov, and blocked the entrance to the base. The activists lay on the road and pretended to be dead, dressed in white and covered in red paint, representing the large amount of blood on Gaza’s streets. After about 10 minutes all of the activists to joined the die-in were arrested.
Ayala, one of the activists: "We pretended to be dead as an installation that is meant to illustrate to the IDF’s pilots the results of their actions in Gaza. A pilot who is at a hight of thousands of feet, who aims toward a target, and presses a button, can ignore, forget or even not grasp that in this very instant he killed innocent people. We came here to remind this.*
Since the beginning of this war, the air force has bombed Gaza 300 times. In these bombings more than 400 Palestinians have been killed, hundreds of civilians. It is impossible to be against the bombing of civilians in Sderot without being against massive killing of citizens in Gaza.
International Laws of War obligate as much avoidance as possible from harming civilians. The Israeli air force’s bombings on heavily populated Gaza cannot but harm civilians and are a war crime. Every pilot that bombs Gaza bombs a civilian population and he is a war criminal.
Because of too many arrested early in the morning we participated in joint demonstrations against the separation fence only in Jayyous - where lot of tear gas was used, and in Bil’in - which was again an experimental field for "low lethal means for crowd control". This Friday In Bil’in, the state force did another experiment with the noise machine and new bullets. In the experiment of the noise machine, it replaced at the beginning most of the state repression. For long time they didnot use tear gas or shooting with rubber coated bullets in spite of intense barrage of stones thrown by the kids. It seems the state force main task - besides the experiment, was to prevent the recurring of the cutting of the separation fence as done on the Sunday demonstration against the war in Gaza.
SATURDAY, January the 3d
During the week was distributed the call for demonstration on Saturday in the name of the coalition of organizations against the war (in Gaza) - the Anarchists against the Wall initiative are in it:
"The killing in Gaza continues. Hundreds have been killed, thousands injured, air-strikes have caused utter devastation and entire families are left homeless.
Civilians in the south of Israel are being held captive by a government which lies to them and abuses them. Destruction and death in Gaza will not ensure their future, but rather lead to more violence and killings. Join us in protest this coming Saturday, 3.1.2009, in Tel aviv. Together we will call out:
Stop the Killing! No to the Siege! Yes to life for both peoples!
In these dark days, let us stick to our message:
Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies!
Our demand: A full truce and the lifting of the siege on Gaza NOW!
Please note: For the past week mass arrests have been carried out amongst Palestinian citizens of Israel who are exercising their democratic right to protest. On Saturday, at 13:00, before the Tel Aviv demonstration, a mass protest rally will be held in Sakhnin by the High Committee of Arab Israelis against the killing in Gaza. Please make an effort to join - your presence is of the essence!”
At the evening, after the highest court forbidden the police from interfering with the content of the demonstration thousand of people converged in the city square - including many who participated at the early afternoon in the demonstration at Sakhnin in the north. Few hundreds participated in the anarchist block. The drumming circle was the center of the block all along the demonstration. Anarchist flags banners and chants were targeted along the route by rightists who failed to cause any disturbance.
On Sunday, the 28/12/08 there was in Ni’ilin a demonstration in protest of the massacre in Gaza. Very fast the demonstration escalated into confrontations in few locations between the army & gendarmes that shoot bullets covered with rubber & tear gas and villagers that threw stones on the state force.
The biggest focus of confrontation was in the main entrance to the village, near the intersection between road 446 and road 4460, and there were concentrated lot of gendarmes. A second focus was a bit to the south-west of the 4460 in an olive plantation adjacent to the village houses. The most marginal building - a poultry, is already within the olive plantation and around it were confrontations. The soldiers were on one side of the poultry and the demonstrators - about 15-30 young villagers on the other side.
I stood near the second focus of confrontation, about 30-40 meters from the stone throwers.
For a long while the state force used tear gas and rubber coated bullets. [which are much less lethal - I.S] At a certain moment, the noise of shooting changed into that of non automatic live ammunition (based on my experience). I approached to the stone throwing people to warn them that the state force started to use live ammunition.
At that moment, the demonstrators stood behind a high pile of stones adjacent to the poultry and about 4-5 soldiers who were about 20 meter from them, were walking freely to and fro behind a low field wall ("terasa").
It was clear from their behavior they did not perceive any danger to their life*. The shooting of live ammunition (not upward in the air) continued for few minutes.
Because of the danger, after warning few of the youth there of the danger I started to retreat backwards looking all the time towards the confrontation. After about 5 meters of retreat one of the demonstrators was hit in his leg. I run to him and was the second to reach him. We carried him about 15 meters backwards, towards a team of para-medics who were there. About 30 seconds or less passed and we heard shouts about another casualty. I run back but half way I saw four people carrying a limp body - a person that was shut at his back and seemed dead. Later I learned it was Arafat Khauagha.
I looked at the location where the people were shot and I have seen another one shot at and collapsing. The people around him carried him and cried that he was shot at his head. Later I learned that his name is Muhamad Khawaga.
The fire continued. The head of the injured was covered with blood that was flowing in a big stream. The people who were carrying him were covered with his blood.
I run towards Arafat Khawaga and replaced one of these who carried him. I held his left shoulder and his head so it will not be shaken. My hand that held his shoulder and back was covered with his blood. Then, one of the youth replaced me. There was no ambulance at that place at the moment and he was evacuated in a car of one of the villagers. The ambulance arrived a minute later and evacuated the other three injured ones to the Ramallah hospital.
I will stress again that the use of live ammunition was not of short duration and was not because of any distress of the soldiers that could have been interpreted as threatening their live[**]. The duration of that shooting was along few minutes in which the soldiers were behind a cover with out retreating. In addition, a short distance from them there was a much bigger force - tens of border guard gendarmes, that had not come "to save them" - proving that no danger was felt there.
In addition, Araphat Khawaga was shot at his back, meaning his back was towards the soldiers while he was shot at - hardly any threat to them at all.
==================== ** The spokesperson of the Israeli army declare each time the state forces murder a Palestinian that "they were just protecting themselves as there was a threat on their lives..."
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