Left-wing Israelis and Palestinian protestors on opposite sides of the Israel-Gaza fence get a rare chance to speak to one another face to face.
For a few short minutes last week, a group of Israeli activists managed to have a face-to-face conversation with Palestinian activists in Gaza, albeit through a militarized fence.
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On Wednesday of last week, for the first time since the Great Return March began in March, a small group of Israeli activists approached the fence to speak with Palestinian demonstrators, standing just meters from them on the other side.
The Palestinians who approached the fence had been taking part in a cultural event near the village of Khuza’a in one of the nearby tent encampments, which was established as part of the Great Return March.
The rare meeting lasted only a few minutes, until Israeli soldiers arrived and ordered the Israelis to leave the area.
The meeting was “very touching,” according to one of the Israeli activists there, who asked that his name not be used. “The soldiers asked us if we weren’t afraid for our lives. We told them that we were worried that our friends on the other side would be shot.”
“One of the young Palestinians asked us where we were from,” added the activist. “The younger ones have been locked in Gaza all their lives, they do not know Israelis who are not soldiers. They found it hard to believe that there are Israelis who show solidarity with them.”
The meeting comes after multiple attempts by Israeli activists to approach the Israel-Gaza fence in show of solidarity with Palestinians protesting on the other side. Along with waving Palestinian flags on the Israeli side of the border, the activists previously hung photos of Gazans killed by the Israeli army and organized parallel tea parties on both sides of the fence.
Palestinians have been marching weekly to the fence in order to highlight the impacts of the siege on Gaza, as well as to re-center the issue of Palestinian refugees. Since protests began on March 30, Israeli soldiers have killed at least 205 Palestinians, and wounded tens of thousands of others. Last Friday, Israeli soldiers shot dead seven Palestinians — including two teenage boys — during the protests, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.