Protests by international solidarity activists against Israel’s military occupation continue 12 years after the killing of Rachel Corrie. The young woman was crushed by an Israel Defence Forces armoured bulldozer in 2003 as she tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes. Speaking to Anadolu, a number of solidarity activists stressed that they look upon the young American as a hero; a great example of someone dedicated to the struggle for Palestinian rights.
According to one 24-year-old Frenchwoman taking part in the weekly anti-Israel protest in the village of Al-Nabi Saleh, it is “unnatural” to be there. “But being here is important as I am taking part in the Palestinians’ lives and writing notes about a detained nation here.”
She claimed that she once viewed Palestinians in a stereotypical way and believed that Palestine was a war zone. “When I came here, though, I found a nation and human beings living the same as all other humans. A Palestinian can be happy or sad and can resist. I found an occupation arresting and stealing lands. I will write to the French about our fellow Palestinian human beings.”
The Arabic-speaking activist added that she has many friends in Palestine. “I will come here again. I think that it is the duty of the whole world to stand against the Israeli killing and arresting of Palestinians and foreign activists. The world must stand with the Palestinians.”
She has concluded that the international community and the Western media are wrong to treat the Palestinians and the Israelis in the same way. “There are no similarities. Palestinians are a nation under occupation and the Israelis are the occupiers,” she insisted.
Despite being shot in the leg by the Israeli occupation forces three weeks ago, Maria, 22, also took part in the protest in Al-Nabi Saleh. “I have been in Palestine for 60 days,” she told Anadolu. “I will return home in a few weeks, but I will be back here again. Everyone can see the violations of the Israeli army.”
Maria’s purpose in being there, she explained, is so that she can tell the world about what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories. “The Israeli army has no justification for opening fire. It killed Corrie and is killing Palestinians every day. This is unbelievable.”
British citizen Jemmy is 19. He insists on staying in solidarity with the Palestinians. Israeli security forces sprayed pepper spray in his face and arrested his friends, a number of whom were subsequently deported.
“I am here to support freedom and to expose the violations of the Israeli occupation,” he said. “I want to reflect the image of the Palestinians who suffer the most at the hands of the Israeli occupation, which steals the land and kills the people.”
Jemmy believes that he and his colleagues are following in Rachel Corrie’s footsteps. “I might be banned from coming here again, but I want to encourage everyone in my country to come and experience the life of the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation.”
Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu-Rahma said that an average of five international solidarity campaigners enter the Palestinian territories every month. They live with the Palestinians and take part in their anti-occupation protests. Many are arrested during the demonstrations and then deported. Most are members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).