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War in the Middle East

By the beginning of November the escalating war in the Middle East had claimed more than 160 lives (predominantly Palestinian), 2000-6000 had been wounded and more than 700 arrested.

Once blood has been shed and tensions reach new heights, the opportunities for dialogue and resolution to conflict are reduced. However there have been numerous acts of solidarity and calls for a cease-fire from both Jewish and Palestinian groups and several joint demonstrations and vigils. These have included a permanent sit-in in Jerusalem; a Jewish/Arab reconciliation tent; demonstrations at the US embassy; open meetings; petitions; and Women in Black vigils. There have also been demonstrations outside the Israeli Ministry of Defence in support of conscientious objectors such as Noam Kuzar, an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) conscript sentenced to one month's imprisonment for refusing to fight.

A joint initiative by Palestinians and Jewish anti-zionist activists has set up mobile units to try to stop mob violence by Jewish settlers - many of whom are now openly carrying weapons. And while Palestinian violence against Israelis has been significantly less - though this may be more to do with a lack of access to heavy weapons than “self-restraint” - the high profile butchering of three IDF soldiers in Ramallah in October added fuel to an already raging fire.

However, along with tanks, helicopter gun-ships and rocket attacks on Palestinian residential areas, the Israelis have also cut water supplies to some Palestinian areas and the IDF have destroyed hundreds of trees in a bid to hit the Palestinians on many fronts.

At the time of going to press the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority were attempting to set up renewed peace talks, with the Palestinians calling for more involvement by the Europeans, presumably to offset the heavy Israeli bias of the US “peacemakers”.