Action for peace in Palestine

IssueOctober - November 2014
News by David Polden

On 9 August, during an overwhelming Israeli attack on Gaza, an estimated 150,000 people marched from the BBC’s Broadcasting House HQ in central London to a Hyde Park rally in Britain’s biggest-ever demonstration for Gaza. This followed a demonstration on 15 July, when 5,000 protested at the BBC’s one-sided coverage of the Israeli assault, bringing the roads around the Broadcasting House to a standstill.

Some 2,100 inhabitants of Gaza, including over 400 children, were killed by Israeli forces during the seven-week assault. 64 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as six Israeli civilians, including one child.

In Israel, the largest of a series of anti-war demos was 10,000-strong, in Tel Aviv on 16 August. In the US, the most successful nonviolent direct action campaign targeted Israel’s giant Zim shipping line. The offloading of the Zim Piraeus was delayed for four days in Oakland, California, initially by 2,500 Palestinian solidarity activists.

Israeli COs

Meanwhile, a string of Israeli citizens has continued to refuse to serve in the Israeli defence forces. On 10 August, 18-year old Anan Shaneen of the Palestinian Druze community, was surprised to be exempted from military service. She had announced her refusal to serve in June: ‘I will not serve in the army that occupies my people.’

On 26 July, a 19-year old orthodox Jew from Be’er Sheva, Uriel Ferrera, was sentenced to 30 days in a military prison, his seventh such sentence. Ferrera opposes both the occupation of the Palestinian people and discrimination against Arab-Palestinians inside Israel.

On 28 July, 19-year-old kibbutznik Udi Segal was sentenced to 20 days in a military prison. Udi was one of the 130 signatories to the 2014 ‘letter of conscientious objectors’, the largest public collective declaration of refusal in Israel since 2008.

On 17 August, a 20-year-old ultra-orthodox Haredi community member, Eliahu Cohen, was sentenced to 20 days in military prison, his second such sentence. In spite of the ongoing attack on Gaza, some 300 Haredim blocked a major crossroads in Jerusalem in protest.

Protest boat freed

On 31 August, an Israeli court ordered the release of the sailing ship Estelle, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition which attempted to break the siege of Gaza in 2012. The court found for Ship to Gaza Sweden, and ordered the state of Israel to pay court costs.