UK Friends of Standing Together @omdimbeyachadUK

Humanitarian Guard confronts far-right settlers in occupied East Jerusalem (5 June)

Standing Together’s National Field Organiser Uri Weltmann reports on the movement’s efforts to combat anti-Palestinian violence.


Dear friends,

Every year, on the anniversary of the occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, there is an official holiday in Israel called “Jerusalem Day”. For the Far-Right in Israel, this is an opportunity to bring by buses many young people, mostly from the West Bank settlements, that march through the Old City, in an act of violent provocation towards the local Palestinian residents: they attack local business, beat bystanders and journalists, sing violent and ultra-nationalist songs and chants (“Mohammad is dead”, “May your village burn”, “Death to Arabs”, etc.).

This annual orgy of violence, supported by the cynical politicians of the Israeli right, is done under the eyes of the police, allowing the violent youth to attack Palestinians with impunity. In fact, at times the police even approached local Palestinian shop owners in the Old City forcing them to close down their business for that day.

This year, we in Standing Together had the Humanitarian Guard, as an activist initiative we launched three weeks ago to bring peace activists for direct action, on the ground, in Tarqumiah checkpoint, to allow the aid trucks carrying food to Gaza to pass safely, without being attacked by the extremist settlers. We called on the volunteers of the Humanitarian Guard to come to the Old City in Jerusalem – wearing purple vests, working to de-escalate situations of violence, to document the actions of the settlers and the inaction of the police – and dozens of people from Israel, mostly Jewish citizens but also some Palestinian citizens, answered our call. (Mind you, it is incredibly dangerous for Palestinians – even those with Israeli citizenship – to be present in such violent situations, as both the right wingers and the police would not be hesitant to use violence against them).

Also reported in Al Jazeera English.

***

This week we launched a public campaign – with billboards in bus stop, along the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv and the main roads in Haifa, in posters in various cities, undere the slogan “Accept the deal, End the war, NOW” calling on our government to do what the majority of people in Israel want it to do, which is to reach a deal around the framework presented by US President Joe Biden, which includes a hostages release and an end to this war.

Hamas, as well as the mediating countries of Egypt and Qatar, have welcomed Binen’s speech. However, Netanyahu has made public reservations about it, and his Far-Right coalition partners, Ben Gvir and Smotrich, openly threatened to leave the coalition and force early elections if an agreement is reached that will bring the war to its end.

All of this stresses the importance of mobilizing public opinion inside Israel – indeed, mobilizing the people themselves – around the highly popular demand of accepting this diplomatic framework. It might topple the government, it might end the war, it might bring back the hostages – all of these are welcomed results.

***

The actions of the Humanitarian Guard in Tarqumiah checkpoint, where we confronted right-wing hooligans who were attacking the aid trucks carrying food to Gaza, were covered recently by several more media outlets.

Al Jazeera in English covered us:

I gave an interview to Le Parisien: