23 February 2004
On the day the International Court in The Hague started its hearing on the Separation Wall, the “Israeli Coalition against the Wall” raised an “Israeli Voice against the Wall”.
About 700 activists of Gush Shalom, Ta’ayush, Yesh Gvul, the Women’s Coalition for Peace and others, took part in the demonstration near thePrime Minsiter’s residence, only some 200 meters from the place where a day before a suicide bomber had blown up a bus. “The Wall will not bring security, it will only bring more attacks,” said Oren Medicks, one of ther speakers.
“It is important for us to show to the world that there is a significant part of Israeli public opinion that opposes this monstrous Wall,” Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom said to the press. At the center of the demonstration a “wall” was set up. At the height of the event, the demonstrators attacked the wall and destroyed it within seconds.
“The wall around the Gaza Strip works!” people say. “But do you know how many thousands died in Gaza in the past years, and that the army needs a whole division there? Do you want to make of the West Bank a bigger Gaza, imprisoning two million people behind walls and barbed wire, leaving them bitter and without hope? How many divisions will that require?” exclaimed Oren Medicks, who spoke for Gush Shalom.
Meir Margalit of the Committee Against House Demolition had spoken before him on this cold Monday evening during the demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence: “On this day of the funerals after the suicide bombing of yesterday which happened more or less around the corner from here, I call upon the inhabitant of the house before we stand: Mr Prime Minister, the wall does not stop terrorism. It invigorates it. For every stopped terrorist the wall is creating twelve new ones.”
Opposite the makeshift podium, a replica of the Wall was erected - and during the speeches demonstrators were busily covering it with graffiti: Wall is War / The Wall = No Peace = No Security = More Hatred / The Wall, Prison for Palestinians - Ghetto for Israelis.
“The Sharon-Netanyahu government is creating walls of poverty and misery - to finance the walls of concrete” - Sigal Haroush, on behalf of the Democratic Oriental Rainbow.
A religious note, from Yael Nechoushtan, Rabbis for Human Rights. “Know you not the heart of the stranger? Were you not a stranger in Egypt? - This is what we read this week in the Synagogue. And what do we see when we go to the Wall? Palestinian farmers waiting to be allowed to go through a gate so they can cultivate their land - one day just the humiliation and waiting; another day the gate remaining closed, leaving them nothing but to go home and leave the land untilled.”
“The struggle against the Wall and against the occupation is becoming more and more a common struggle of Israelis and Palestinians. In many demonstrations we see Israeli activists standing by our side and we very much appreciate it,” said Fadwah Haddad of the Palestinian Committee Against The Wall in East Jerusalem.
Shai Gorski of Ta’ayush added: “In many places today, Israelis have joined with Palestinians in protesting against the Wall: outside the US Consulate in East-Jerusalem; in Abu-Dis, where no less than hundred Israelis came in working hours to protest the 8-meter high Wall cutting this town in two; at Budrus village, where the olive groves are dally destroyed by bulldozers; at Dir el-Rasun near Tulkarem, and also at villages in the Bethlehem District. Nearly everywhere it ended the same way: the army using violence and tear gas to disperse the rallies.”
Moderator Hulud Badawi called upon participants to show up tomorrow at half past eight at the Tel-Aviv Court where 14 Anarchists Against Fences are to be remanded in custody, after having blocked the street in front the Tel-Aviv Defence Ministry. She also mentioned the five refusers spending another year behind bars, who were this morning transferred to a civilian prison, as well as the woman refuser Laura Milo who yesterday joined the new series of imprisoned refusers - it seems that the gloves are off also for the female refusniks.
“And now, let’s teach Sharon and his ministers and generals what to do with Apartheid Walls” cried Badawi. Hundreds of participants turned to the cardboard Wall gleefully tearing it into pieces. “With the real Wall it won’t be that easy, but fall it will, like the Berlin Wall! And now please help clear up the mess” were the words with which Badawi ended the rally.
That morning, a petition against the wall, initiated by the Coalition and signed by almost 1000 Israelis, was published in the papers. Also that morning Gush Shalom published an ad calling for removal of the wall erected on Palestinian land. It said that a wall would have neen acceptable if it had been set up on the Green Line and as a temporary measure, until peace was achieved.