More than 250 Palestinian and Israeli women and men were attacked by military forces at a demonstration at the Qalandia checkpoint. Several injuries were reported, including one woman who was hospitalized after being shot with a rubber-coated bullet.
The demonstration started Thursday at noon, with some 200 Palestinian women marching from Ramallah towards Qalandia – the main checkpoint on the way to Jerusalem. Demonstrators chanted slogans and held tri-lingual signs linking the feminist struggle with the struggle against the occupation. The women were joined by an international delegation, including European Parliament Member and former Vice President Luisa Morgantini, and later on by several dozen Israeli women from the Women’s Coalition for Peace.
Upon nearing the checkpoint the demonstration was suppressed by Israeli army and Border Police forces, who at first used stun grenades and the “skunk” water canon, and then moved on to “the scream machine”, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. All this took place on the main road towards the checkpoint, which was, as always, packed with a row of cars waiting to be searched, whose drivers suffered collateral damage from the soldiers’ attack.
After several attempts to proceed in spite of the army’s acts, most women retreated back toward Ramallah, and as the soldiers started following them, several youth began throwing stones. Clashes went on for a while. Several demonstrators were injured, and one needed medical treatment after being shot with a rubber-coated bullet.
“The 8th of March symbolizes an accumulated struggle for women all around the world for freedom and justice”, said Amaal Khresha of the Palestinian Women’s Working Association for Development. “For Palestinian women under the occupation, this day is a day of marking the struggle against the occupation.” Arabia Mansur of the Women’s Coalition for Peace added that occupation and militarism will never enable the development of a society that offers women a life of happiness and dignity. “We must put a stop to the sort of education which teaches children to see reality through the barrel of a gun, and women have to stop participating in such education,” said Mansur.
The demonstration also focused on solidarity with administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, who is now on the 24the day of a hunger strike. As reported before here, Shalabi’s physical condition is deteriorating, and a decision in her appeal against her detention order is due beginning of next week.
At about the same time, several hundred Jewish and Palestinian women with Israeli citizenship demonstrated for Women’s Day in the streets of Tel Aviv, demanding civil rights, equality, and fair employment.