Edna Zaritzky, a resident of Kiryat Chaim, declared Tuesday night: "Our children are being sacrificed." She was demonstrating in Haifa along with tens of left-wing activists protesting IDF operations in Lebanon. When counter-protestors arrived at the rally, local police announced its dispersal and detained four of the protestors.
Left-wing demonstrators called for an immediate cessation of fighting in the north and south, and carried signs, in Hebrew, Arabic and English, reading: "Stop the War", "Ceasefire Now", "Better to exchange prisoners than to dig graves" and more. The protestors yelled the same slogans that were heard in other rallies in recent days, among them: "Defense Minister Peretz, how many kids have you killed today?" "Government ministers are war criminals" and "Prime Minister Olmert, the homefront is not on your side."
A few residents driving by the rally honked their horns in dissent. Some gathered opposite the protestors and cried "Good for the prime minister." Izo Shafsy, a Haifa resident, expressed his outrage regarding the rally. "I am revolted that, at a time like this, these people are allowed to demonstrate. They are traitors, terrorists. They are protesting against the IDF when Nasrallah is the one who started this whole mess." After a while, counter-protestors sounded phrases such as "Death to Arabs" and even sang "Arik, King of Israel, still lives." A few counter-protestors threw stones at the leftists, but, as aforementioned, it was the latter who were detained.
Zaritzky explained: "We're trying to stop this crazy war. It is inconceivable that the government's first response will be one of war. There is the option of negotiation." According to her, "the price that both populations are paying for this war is unacceptably high. Children are paying with their lives. Soldiers are dying, also, and they're children, too. The people who send them to fight are actually sacrificing them."
The demonstration was guarded by local and border guard police forces, until the situation heated up and the forces declared an end to the event, requesting everyone's dispersal. However, the atmosphere became more and more violent, and a few counter-protestors even tried to physically harm leftists detained by the police.
A left-wing woman's group reported that, since the first day of the war, they have been demonstrating ever day in Haifa, near the area hit by the rockets. The 'Women in Black' movement holds protests in a number of cities every Friday. They recently called for the support of other branches of their movement around the globe. As a result, this past week, some ninety protests against the confrontation in Lebanon took place around the world. Protests also take place in front of the prime minister's house every day, at which time the women call out the number of deaths in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, and Lebanon.
Letter to Rice: End the war
On the occasion of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to the region, the Bat Shalom and Women against the War organizations addressed a letter to the American envoy, calling on her "to end the war in Lebanon immediately. The lives of so many people are in your hands."
"This ongoing war is already destroying the Lebanese infrastructure, creating new refugees and displaced Lebanese people, along with the killing of innocent people on both sides of the border.
"We call upon you to put pressure on Israel and the Hizbullah to stop all hostilities immediately, to agree upon a total ceasefire, and negotiate the release of the Israeli soldiers, as well as the release of the Lebanese prisoners," it stated.
The organizations wrote that "the core reason for the violence in our region is the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the ongoing oppression of the entire civil society in the occupied territories."
"Therefore, we call upon you to bring the parties to the political track and to address the need for ending the Israeli occupation," they wrote.
The Physicians for Human Rights organization has also issued a statement calling for a ceasefire, which linked the Israeli presence in the territories to the fighting in Lebanon:
"We call upon the Israeli government to show responsibility toward all residents of the area-in Israel, Gaza and Lebanon, and to initiate a ceasefire while relying upon the active involvement of the international community to create the necessary conditions that will facilitate the restoration of security to the area in general and to the residents of the north and south in particular."