לגירסה העברית <
 
Courage to Refuse > Press > Refuseniks, settlers face off at rallies near Gaza barrier - Lili Galili
Refuseniks, settlers face off at rallies near Gaza barrier - Lili Galili 20/01/2004
 
 

"There aren't many Israelis left who think we should stay in the Gaza Strip, yet soldiers are still being killed here defending a handful of criminals who live here," said Hen Alon, one of the leaders of the group Courage to Refuse. "I've just returned from reserve duty at Hamat Gader, and all the officers there told me they are not refuseniks, but would not enter Netzarim," he said.


Some 200 conscientious objectors and their supporters demonstrated at the Kissufim barricade near the Gaza Strip on Friday.

The demonstrators, among them Sayeret Matkal members and air force pilots who had signed a letter refusing to take part in attacks on Palestinian civilians, called on the soldiers at the barrier to join their protest and support withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"There aren't many Israelis left who think we should stay in the Gaza Strip, yet soldiers are still being killed here defending a handful of criminals who live here," said Hen Alon, one of the leaders of the group Courage to Refuse. "I've just returned from reserve duty at Hamat Gader, and all the officers there told me they are not refuseniks, but would not enter Netzarim," he said.

Dozens of settlers faced the protesters, and the two sides - separated by large police forces - started a loud argument. "Soldiers are dying because of the settlers," shouted the refuseniks. "No Netzarim - no casualties." The settlers, mostly youngsters, shouted back, "Refusal is the destruction of Zionism." The protesters responded: "Refusal is Zionism."

Both sides raised the Israeli flag. The settlers held up a large placard saying "uprooting settlements tears the nation." The protesters shouted, "The settlers are leading us to civil war."

Despite the predictions that the demonstration might lead to a confrontation with the settlers and the police, it proceeded calmly, following the protesters' decision not to block the intersection. However, Yair, a member of the Sayeret Matkal group, said the refuseniks are planning sharper measures and that additional military groups are preparing to come out and declare their refusal. "I know a lot of places where it is simmering just below the surface," he said.

On the settlers' side, 17-year-old Elad Hazut, of the Neveh Dekalim settlement, said: "Maybe they were good soldiers, but their awareness is distorted." Asked if he and his friends might become refuseniks if ordered to
evacuate settlements, he replied, "We'll ask the rabbis."

Actor Rami Hoiberger, who publicly supports the refuseniks, said: "I see the refuseniks as pioneers, just like the people of the second immigration. I myself come here as a former soldier in
Lebanon, as a father of two sons and as a son of Holocaust survivors. I simply have no other choice."

Ezra Eldar, of the Ganei Tal settlement, said, "There are three nations here - the Palestinians, the Jews and the Israelis. The Israelis are behaving worse than the enemy. What's left is us, the Jewish people."

Brigadier General Yoel Peterberg, a veteran combat pilot who signed the pilots' refusal letter, addressed the demonstrators. "We are the real peace soldiers of democracy. The real refuseniks are the leaders of the state, who perpetrate war crimes. They will answer to the
International Court in The Hague or before God."

Benny Gefen, 77, who lost his son in
Lebanon, came to support the refuseniks. Gefen had come to this area before, in the midst of the War of Independence, to rescue an immigrants' boat arriving at Gaza beach. "I never imagined that after more than 50 years I would have to come here again, to fight another war," he said.

The protest ended after about three hours. The settlers hurried home before the beginning of the Sabbath, while the protesters went home after singing the national anthem.

Last Saturday, some 500 people demonstrated opposite military prison No. 6, in the north of the country, in support for the five soldiers who were sentenced to one year's prison sentence for refusing to serve in the army.

 

Link to the source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/384021.html


About Us | Combatant's Letter | News | Press | Signers | Supporters | Join | Articles | FAQ | Help Now
© 2003 All rights reserved