On 21 June dozens of protesters – Jews and Arabs, including Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM) activists – held a demonstration in front of the defence ministry in Tel Aviv.
The protest was held against the Israeli government’s use of the tragic kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank as a pretext for military escalation and imposing collective punishment on the Palestinian population.
So far five Palestinians, including two children and one teenager, have been killed during the military offensive in the West Bank. Hundreds have been arrested and imprisoned without trial. The number of Palestinian ‘administrative detainees’ in Israeli jails has nearly doubled in a week.
The main Palestinian towns in the West Bank, and especially Khalil/Hebron, are being held under siege. In parallel to the daily military raids in the West Bank, the Israeli army has conducted a number of air strikes in Gaza.
During the demonstration SSM activists explained that none of those grotesque steps of repression and collective punishment will bring security for the Israeli public or the kidnapped teenagers. On the contrary, the policy of the government is setting up the stage for potentially new rounds of bloodshed.
A small number of Israeli nationalists came to the demonstration looking for a confrontation with protesters. Two cowardly thugs, who did not dare to confront us during the demonstration, followed four of us as we were walking back home.
When we were walking through a car park, they attacked us from behind, hit three SSM activists with their fists and immediately ran away as we tried to push them back.
Three of the activists had to receive medical treatment in hospital. One of them, Eyal Yablonko, had to have stitches in his eyebrow and his glasses were broken. We managed to identify the attackers in photos and videos that the other demonstrators helped us to find. A complaint was filed at the police station.
The attack was not aimed only at SSM but at any voice of criticism or opposition to the government action. It occurred on the background of incitement by government representatives and big parts of the pro-establishment media against anyone who dares to question the motives behind the recent military raids.
Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and his government are trying to use the kidnapping to silence the growing criticism against their policy of occupation, expansion of colonial settlements, and detention without trial abroad and at home.
This includes racist slandering against the representatives of the Arab-Palestinian population in Israel and Arab-Palestinian members of the Knesset (parliament) like Haneen Zoabi who received death threats and is due to be interrogated by the police.
But these acts and the cowardly attack on protesters will not silence the protest against the Israeli government’s actions or stop the growth of discontent in society with the policies of the government and Israeli capitalist ruling elite.
Alongside the need for mass resistance in the West Bank to the military raids, SSM activists call for the organising of more determined, well protected, and bigger protests inside Israel against the military operation, the ongoing occupation, the colonial settlements and imprisonment without trial.