Rockets and war crimes cannot break the Israeli peace movement

At the time of writing, 80 rockets have been launched from Gaza since last night – all aimed at the south of Israel.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) spokesman on twitter pointed out earlier that these rockets are not always intercepted.

The latest series of attacks have caused at least 5 injuries. Towns across the south of Israel are, once again, living in fear that a rocket could hit at any moment.

These attacks, due to their indiscriminate nature are a violation of International Humanitarian Law as they fail to distinguish between civilian and combatant. Amnesty International has accused Hamas, who regularly claim responsibility for these rocket attacks, of War Crimes.

These most recent attacks reminded me of my visit to Sderot earlier this year. Sderot is an Israeli town less than a kilometer from the Gaza border with a population of just 24,000 people. Life in Sderot is dictated by the near constant danger of rocket attacks.

Every house in Sderot has a built in ‘safe room’. I was told residents have just 14 seconds to get to it should they hear the warning siren. A physical impossibility for many such as Sderot’s elderly residents.

Town planners have ensured that there are always bomb shelters close by out in the streets. Every bus stop is built to double up as a bomb shelter. As a result, residents of Sderot are never far from shelter nor the reminder that they live in a constant danger.

Nearly all of Sderot’s residents have been affected by rocket attacks. 13 people have been killed in the small town in the last decade alone. The most recent was 35 year old Shir-El Friedman who was killed on the 9th May 2008.

Despite this terrifying reality, I met some within this small community that are actively looking to reach out to those living in Gaza.

I met a representative from ‘Other Voice‘ – a group of Israelis, mainly based in Sderot, who are working to end the circle of violence both in Gaza and Sderot. Their website states:

The Palestinians are also suffering. They, like us, strive for a quiet and peaceful life and for a better future. We believe that only by working together can we reach a long lasting solution. Therefore, our group is in ongoing contact with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who believe, as we do, in non-violence and mutual respect that will bring about the much anticipated change”.

To meet Israelis living with this constant threat of attack but who were looking to create dialogue rather than conflict was truly inspiring. Too often, across both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, I witnessed the exact opposite happening.

The most difficult question I am left with, is that I don’t know how I would respond if I lived under such constant fear! This however only exaggerates my admiration for those like the members of Other Voice.

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6 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Middle East, War

6 responses to “Rockets and war crimes cannot break the Israeli peace movement

  1. burt

    You are aware of the tragic climate of unrest in the Middle East right now – and I think we all find it relevant as much as ever to support a movement for peace in the world.
    For that reason I hope you will join me in supporting the Kickstarter project The Table of Silence: a ritual prayer for peace at Lincoln Center on 9/11 for the third year in a row.
    Click here to watch the video and donate to the 2013 9/11 public ceremony at Lincoln Center: http://kck.st/11t2B7c

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  2. Only just seen this post and is a bit ironic in the face of the barrage that is being dropped on Gaza. Sderot has suffered 13 tragic deaths in a decade and Gaza more than that just today and they have no bomb shelters and, thanks to the siege, no concrete to build them with, This does not justify the Qassam rockets or reduce my admiration for people like Nomika Zion, She is one of the, sadly too few, who recognise the underlying injustice. And despite the Nakba and the Occupation, The first rocket from Gaza was in 2001. That’s 53 years after many of its residents were ethnically cleansed & 34 years into military occupation. I feel very depressed because it seems until Israel is prepared to face its contribution to creating the problem, the prospects for peace seem slim. Hamas were ready for a ceasefire deal to be brokered by Egypt., Uri Avnery (founder of Israeli peace group Gush Shalom made this stinging critique of Israel’s government: “Netanyahu and Barak have decided to deliberately violate a cease-fire which had just been stabilised. At the price of great and ongoing suffering on both sides of the border, the government’s aim has been accomplished: social issues will be removed from the public agenda and the election campaign.”

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  3. florence

    Thanks Steve for this balanced article.Other Voice has its feet firmly on the ground and inspires those who love life

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  4. anyawhiteside

    A good reminder of some of the amazing things communities can do on all sides despite living with constant fear. Thanks steve

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  5. Indeed, Steve. Nomika of ‘Other Voice’ was and remains an inspiration. It’s really important that we support those in Israeli society who are looking for more creative non-violent solutions to the conflict.

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    • Only just seen this post and is a bit ironic in the face of the barrage that is being dropped on Gaza. Sderot has suffered 13 tragic deaths in a decade and Gaza more than that just today and they have no bomb shelters and, thanks to the siege, no concrete to build them with, This does not justify the Qassam rockets or reduce my admiration for people like Nomika Zion, She is one of the, sadly too few, who recognise the underlying injustice. And despite the Nakba and the Occupation, The first rocket from Gaza was in 2001. That’s 53 years after many of its residents were ethnically cleansed & 34 years into military occupation. I feel very depressed because it seems until Israel is prepared to face its contribution to creating the problem, the prospects for peace seem slim. Hamas were ready for a ceasefire deal to be brokered by Egypt., Uri Avnery (founder of Israeli peace group Gush Shalom made this stinging critique of Israel’s government: “Netanyahu and Barak have decided to deliberately violate a cease-fire which had just been stabilised. At the price of great and ongoing suffering on both sides of the border, the government’s aim has been accomplished: social issues will be removed from the public agenda and the election campaign.”

      Like

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