A group of about 50 activists gathered and marched in solidarity on Israel’s side of the Gaza border Tuesday evening during the first planned women’s march of the ongoing Gaza protests.
After meeting near Kibbutz Nahal Oz, one of the Israeli communities located closest to the border, the mostly female group spoke via cellphone to one of the women organizers of the protest in the Gaza Strip.
“She thanked us for our support and said it’s very important to them,” said Ghadir Hani, who translated the organizer’s words from Arabic to Hebrew.
“She talked about the power of women and how the Four Mothers movement helped Israel come out of Lebanon and how women have the power to make the change,” she said, referring a group of women whose sons were serving in Lebanon and who formed a protest group that helped spur Israel's withdrawal from the country.
Hani, a member of the grassroots political and social movement Standing Together, said that she preferred not to identify the organizer in Gaza by name. Standing Together organizes Jews and Arabs around campaigns for peace, equality and social justice, and the group co-organized Tuesday’s solidarity event with a group of residents from the Gaza border communities called Other Voice.
Dr. Julia Chaitin, from Kibbutz Urim, spoke to the Gazan organizer on behalf of Other Voice.
“I told her that here on this side of the border we are about 50 [people],” said Dr. Chaitin. “For 10 years we’ve been saying that the siege has to end. That we don’t see them as enemies, we see them as our neighbors, and that our leaders and their leaders don’t want to make the change so it’s up to us to make the change.”
After the phone call, about half of the group walked or drove about a mile through Israeli agricultural fields to a lookout spot where Gazan protestors were visible on the other side of the border. Women held up signs with slogans like “A Future of Dignity and Hope on Both Sides of the Border” and “Stop the Next Gaza War” while sirens rang out and the Israeli army fired tear gas canisters at the protestors, much of which was carried back toward the Israeli group by the wind.
At 17, Dror Adam, from Sderot, was one of the youngest women in the group. She said she felt it was important to come because she personally experienced how ongoing violence in the region plagues communities on both sides of the border. In 2006, when Dror was 7, her family’s home was destroyed by a rocket fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip.
“We are neighbors,” said Dror, speaking of women in Gaza. “I feel for them and they shouldn’t lose hope.”
But not all of the women who came to stand in solidarity live in nearby communities. Hamutal Gouri traveled from Jerusalem to stand on the border.
“I wanted there to be a presence here of women and men who are saying, ‘We hear you, we are also here as women, as people who believe in non-violent activism and in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,’” said Gouri.
“I believe that we – the women – are the ones who can and will bring a peace agreement,” she continued, “because I think we have different perspectives. We bring something to the table.”
In Gaza, thousands of Palestinian women took part in a demonstration along the border with Israel. It was reported that the Israeli army used crowed dispersal measures, firing tear gas canisters and smoke grenades at the march. Palestinian reports also said that three people were wounded by live Israeli fire at the rally, near the fence and east of Gaza City.
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