On International Women’s Day, 8th March, the Palestinian Working Woman’s Society for Development along with The Coalition of Women for Peace and several other women’s and human rights organisations, has held a mass rally at the Qalandia military checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The demonstration sent a strong message of protest and resistance against the Israeli government’s policies of segregation, discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people. Such policies, said the demonstrators, are unacceptable; the women who pay the ultimate price will continue to resist them.
Israeli forces attacked the women with tear gas and sprayed sewage water on them in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Around 200 women from Haifa, the Negev region, Hebron, Ramallah and other cities came together to take part in the protest.
One of the main organisers, Mahasin Rabus, said: “On this year’s International Women’s Day we are sending a message to the world; we say loud and clear that we are not accepting Israeli occupation policies, with their checkpoints and the apartheid wall, and we call for immediate intervention to stop Israel’s decades-long abuse of our fundamental rights.”
The Qalandia checkpoint has become a symbol of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. It separates Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied territories, and divides the West Bank into separate units socially and politically disconnected from each other.
According to Amaal Khresha of the Palestinian Working Woman’s Society for Development, “The 8th of March symbolises the mutual struggle by women all around the world for freedom and justice. For Palestine women under the occupation this day is a day to mark our struggle against the Israeli occupation.”
Demonstrators called for the release of Hana Shalabi, an administrative detainee who has been on hunger striker for 22 days. They also demanded the immediate release of all Palestinian political prisoners being held by Israel.