By an AFSC staff member in Jerusalem: Protesters demand democracy for all in Israel

By Sahar Vardi (August 14, 2020)

Sahar, the author, getting shot by a water cannon at a protest on July 14th
Sahar, the author, getting shot by a water cannon at a protest on July 14th, 2020 Photo: / AFSC

Sahar, the author, getting shot by a water cannon at a protest on July 14th. 2020 Photo: / AFSC

July 14th is the Bastille day–the day in which the Bastille fell, and that has come to symbolize the French revolution. This year, on this highly symbolic day, a steady, years old anti-corruption movement in Israel morphed itself into something else completely. By the end of that night, more than 50 protesters –including myself–were led to a police station soaking wet after hours of water cannons trying to disperse the hundreds of protesters blocking roads all around Jerusalem.

The background to these protests are a combination of a prime minister who has been indicted and currently stands on trial on multiple charges of corruption, an “emergency coalition government” formed to respond to the COVID crisis after three elections in which Israeli politics were at a complete deadlock, a complete failure of the government to address the spread of the “second wave” of COVID in the country, and the failed economic response to COVID giving symbolic blanket payouts on the one hand while failing to actually address the needs of those who lost their jobs and incomes….

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Protesters holding a "Democracy for all" sign in Arabic and Hebrew
Protesters holding a “Democracy for all” sign in Arabic and Hebrew
Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Prime Minister official residence in Jerusalem on July 24, 2020. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi

The Great March of Return (of Gazans to their villages and towns)—Israel Threatens More Force After Gaza Protests Leave Nearly 135 Dead, 14,600 Wounded

Palestinians participate in a tent city protest commemorating Land Day, with Israeli soldiers seen below in the foreground on. March 30. Photographer- Jack Guez/AFP

FROM UN’S OFFICE FOR THE COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS (MAY 16, 2018)

Friday’s protests [March 30, 2018], which Israel estimated drew 40,000 people, were the first of six weeks of planned anti-Israel actions meant to dramatize the Palestinians’ plight as refugees. Israel said Sunday that Gaza militants used civilian demonstrators as cover as they fired at soldiers and tried to lay explosives near the border fence. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the militant Hamas group that rules Gaza and sponsored the protests, called the killings a “massacre.”

Palestinians martyrs (to date, April 1, 2018)

Israel threatened to use greater force to quell violent Palestinian protests along the Gaza Strip border, rejecting allegations it used excessive firepower against demonstrations that left at least 16 Palestinians dead….

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TOPSHOT – Palestinian protestors wave their national flag and gesture during a demonstration commemorating Land Day near the border with Israel, east of Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018. Clashes erupted as thousands of Gazans marched near the Israeli border in a major protest dubbed “The Great March of Return”. / AFP / SAID KHATIB
A young Palestinian looks at a poster listing the villages that demonstrators at the Great March of Return plan to return to once the Palestinian right of return is honored. (Photo- Mohammed Asad)

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Reading Maimonides in Gaza, by Marilyn Garson (2018)
From 2011 to 2015, experience in Gaza’s economic sector

This is How We Fought in Gaza, Soldiers׳ testimonies and photographs from “Operation Protective Edge,” by Breaking the Silence (2014)

Book suggestion: Night in Gaza, by Mads Gilbert (2015)
A participant’s view by a Norwegian medical doctor in hospitals during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014, Operation Protective Edge, with excellent photographs by the author. Israel has now banned him from entering the region for life.

Night in Gaza 2