Israeli and Palestinian peace groups are staging demonstrations this week to protest at 40 years of Israeli occupation following the 1967 war that changed the shape of the Middle East.
The events run from June 5 to June 10, marking the anniversary of the war which saw Israel capture east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria in just six days.
‘The present suffering and bloodshed in Gaza and Sderot are a direct outcome of the policy of occupation, settlement, and killing,’ the peace groups said in a statement.
‘Only the end of that policy and the signing of a just peace could put an end to violence and to the continuing injustice against the Palestinian people,’ the statement said.
Among the planned events for the 40-year anniversary are simultaneous rallies in Tel Aviv and the Anata neighborhood in east Jerusalem Tuesday, which will be broadcast live to each other on giant screens.
In Tel Aviv, organizers will erect a duplicate of a checkpoint to bring home to the Israeli public the ‘reality’ of the occupied West Bank, dotted by more than 500 such checkpoints that impede freedom of movement and feed resentment.
The Peace Now anti-settlement group is also planning a rally against continuing settlements in the West Bank town of Hebron Tuesday.
‘We would like to take this opportunity to focus on the issue of settlements and to say to the Israeli public that the policy of settlements is hurting Israeli interests and the Zionist dream,’ Yariv Oppenheimer, head of the group, said.
‘We are going to the most difficult place to make our point.’
Hebron has long been a flashpoint, home to several hundred hardline Israeli settlers who live in a tightly-guarded enclave around the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, and often clash with their 170,000 Palestinian neighbors.
‘Of course one demonstration cannot do everything, but it is very important that our voices will be heard this week,’ Oppenheimer said. ‘And eventually bring about a change of policy.’
The centerpiece of the events will be a rally in Tel Aviv Saturday, to coincide with protests against the Israeli occupation being staged in cities around the world.
Among other events planned is an exhibition by photographers, journalists, and graphic artists in Tel Aviv, a bicycle and roller skate convoy, presentations of testimonies from the occupied territories, a festival of peace and music, and an academic conference.