Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Several hundred Israeli demonstrators on Tuesday gathered in Hebron to mark the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1967 Middle East War, urging the government to remove all Jewish settlers from the biblical city.

Meretz MK Chaim Oron participated in the demonstration. "We should have come here next week, since it was on the seventh day of the Six Day War that this war that has lasted for 40 years began. On that day a group of settlers came here and forced the settlement of Hebron onto the State of Israel. We call on the Israeli government to enter negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. They say they want to talk, we must talk with them and we will also have to evacuate the settlers from Hebron."

Substantial IDF and security forces were on hand to maintain order in case of disturbances, but the protest passed peacefully.

However, the Jerusalem Post says local Palestinians threw stones at the Peace Now bus and a police vehicle after the demonstration. No one was hurt in the incident.

The following is from the Middle East Times and AFP.

Israeli rallies demand end to 40 years of occupation
Mehdi Lebouachera

HEBRON, West Bank -- "Forty years is enough," Israeli peace activists urged Tuesday as they staged rallies demanding an end to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land since the 1967 Six-Day War.

A series of demonstrations was taking place across the occupied West Bank, with more scheduled for later in the day in Israel, on the anniversary of the first day of the 1967 war that reshaped the Middle East.

"End, end the occupation!" shouted some 250 activists from Israel's main anti-settlement group, Peace Now, as they gathered near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, holy to both Jews and Muslims, in the flashpoint town of Hebron.

"Forty years is enough," "Stop the settlements," "Two states for two people," read banners held by the protestors gathered in a parking lot near the holy site.

"We came to protest not only against the settlements in Hebron, but all over the West Bank," the head of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, said. "Israel missed an opportunity during 40 years to get peace agreements with the Palestinians and the Arab world," he said. "We came to protest against the policy of settlements in general."

In Ramallah, several hundred protestors called for an end to Israeli checkpoints and restrictions that impede freedom of movement and feed resentment.

"We want to live freely and without checkpoints," said Farha Ezzat, 62, dressed in traditional Palestinian dress, as others around her waved Palestinian flags and maps of British-mandate Palestine before Israel's creation in 1948.

In Hebron, 60-year-old Peace Now activist Noemi Rinat said that the Jewish people's connection to places in the West Bank like Hebron did not give Israel the right to occupy land that has been promised to the Palestinians for a state of their own.

"The Jews have a 1,000-year history with Hebron, but that doesn't give us the right to occupy the city because now it is Palestinian," Rinat said.

"The occupation in the city makes life impossible for the residents. There is no freedom, curfews all the time, roads are closed, Palestinians cannot move freely ... It is in our interest to leave the West Bank."

Hebron has long been a flashpoint between Palestinians and Israelis. Several hundred hardline settlers currently live in the city under army protection, often clashing with their 170,000 Palestinian neighbors.

Around 30 of the settlers came to the parking lot Tuesday, accusing the peace activists of collaborating with Arab countries. "This is our land!" "Peace Now are collaborators of Arab countries!" they shouted.

One of the settlers yelled through a loudspeaker: "The nation cannot be occupied because this is our land! Israel is not the occupier. Arabs are occupying Eretz Israel [Greater Israel] and we just came back home. Our roots are here!"

Nearly half-a-million Israeli settlers today live on Arab land captured in the 1967 war - around 260,000 settlers live in the West Bank, another 200,000 in East Jerusalem, and 15,000 in the Golan Heights, according to various estimates by anti-settlement groups.

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