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A month of action against occupation and war

Whilst the world turned its attention to Lebanon over the summer, the Israeli military were as busy as ever in Gaza; more than 400 Palestinians were killed, with 1000s injured; 150 buildings were completely destroyed, including homes - leaving many hundreds homeless - and essential infrastructure including a main power station, roads and bridges targeted. Individuals, groups and coalitions around the world have taken action in protest over the last month. Jenny Gaiawyn reports.

In response to the continual, daily attacks, three pieces of nonviolent action by Palestinians have marked a tactical shift in resistance to the occupation.

On 3 November women surrounded a mosque in Beit Hanoun where men were sheltering from the Israeli military. To widespread international condemnation, the soldiers opened fire on the women, killing two and injuring at least 10. A couple of weeks later, hundreds of civilians surrounded two houses that were about to be destroyed by the military, forcing the soldiers to pull back.

In Israel, peace activists held a month of protests and actions under the banner “End the Siege on Gaza”, including demonstrations, vigils, and film screenings, finishing on 2 December with a global day of action, supported by groups in at least 70 cities. The first week hit the headlines when a 40-car “peace convoy” plastered with banners and posters travelled from Tel Aviv to the Erez Crossing into Gaza. Passing through the Serdot settlement they were unexpectedly joined by a female youth worker who agreed with the sentiment expressed on the banners that there is no military solution.

Those horrid images

One of the most visually impressive actions was the occupation of Israeli Armoured Personnel Carriers, also near to the Erez Checkpoint, by the group Anarchists Against the Wall. The activists sat on the APCs, then, whilst their IDs were being checked by the military, they took the opportunity to make their protest more visible; using banners, fake vegan blood, and pictures of those killed by tanks and APCs, both Palestinian and internationals, before calmly leaving with the police unable to find a reason to arrest them.

Blogging after the event, one participant said that, during the action, “a unit of young conscripts was marched over from a nearby military camp, to `clean' the tanks of those horrid images. We called out to the soldiers, as they were tearing the pictures into pieces: `Take a look! - This is your doing!' - `What is this for? Go home, let's put an end to all that killing'... During the entire time, the attacks on Gaza never stopped. Qassam rockets were fired again into Israel later that evening. Two more people were reported dead by Israeli attacks that day.”

International action

International activists have been busy too, with protests, boycotts and occupations all having an impact.

In Montreal hundreds of demonstrators stood in solidarity with those in Beit Hanoun, whilst in Melbourne a week of action against the “Apartheid Wall” included the creation of a mock 3m-high wall designed and constructed by three Palestinian brothers, which carried facts, figures and pictures of the impact of the wall on Palestinians.

In Ireland there was an impressive boycott victory when, during a picket of the Atlantic Homecare shop in Limerick, the manager removed from sale all the Israeli manufactured goods from Keter Plastics, agreeing they would stay out of sale until the management had a chance to meet with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

In England, protesters have been taking on some of the companies involved in arming the occupation. At the end of November the offices of Carmel Agrexco was blockaded, several lorries were prevented from accessing the site, and work was severely disrupted. In London the vice-president of Caterpillar was greeted by about 50 protesters, including the obligatory Samba band, and diners at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers' Annual Dinner - where he was about to speak - heard about the crimes carried out using Caterpillar machinery in Palestine.

Whilst in Wales, Cardiff Castle was occupied by three activists to raise awareness of the illegal occupation of Palestine - after their arrest they were released, but banned from the city until their trial.

There are many groups working on this conflict and several good information sources. Here's a sample:
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Box BM PSA, London WC1N 3XX (020 7700 6192; info@palestinecampaign.org; http://www.palestinecampaign.org).
Coalition of Women for Peace http://coalitionofwomen.org/home/english/
Electronic Intifada http://electronicintifada.net