Left-wing protestors call for prisoner exchange
Some 300 left-wing demonstrators gather near prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, demand government negotiate a prisoner exchange with Hamas to return kidnapped soldier. Protestors’ placards read ‘Speak to Hamas. Don’t arrest and assassinate elected leadership’
A few hundred Left-wing activists gathered Saturday at Paris Square in Jerusalem facing the Prime Minister’s official residence to protest the IDF’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. Demonstrators tried to break through police barriers with the aim of marching towards Zion Square downtown, which was not authorized in the permit issued for the protest.
Roughly 300 people attended the demonstration, organized by the “Yesh Gvul” movement, an organization generally identified with the radical Left. Protestors called on the government to hold negotiations with Hamas regarding exchanging Palestinian prisoners for kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit. The movement views Palestinians held in Israeli prisons as “hostages” and believes Israel should sit at the negotiating table with Hamas as the elected representatives of the Palestinian people.
Protestors call for contacts with Hamas (Gil Yohanan)
Protestors carried placards which read: “Swap hostages now,” “Stop, war crimes ahead,” and “Speak to Hamas. Don’t assassinate and arrest elected leadership.” They also chanted: “Peretz, Peretz, Minister of War, leave the territories, dismantle the wall” and “Peretz, Peretz, Minister of Defense, how many children have you killed today?”
'Stop the violence'
A spokesperson for the movement, Yishai Menuhin, told Ynet, “We are in a state of violence against civilians from both sides. We call on both sides unequivocally to stop the violence.” Menuhin added that “intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime.
Another protestor added, “I don’t support the occupation. That is why I am here, and I certainly don’t support the IDF’s cruel strikes.”
Aviv Sela, a 19-year-old army refuser addressed the demonstrators, saying that he had visited the Ghalia family in Gaza. A few weeks ago seven members of the family were killed in an explosion on Gaza Beach, which Israeli investigations concluded was not due to an Israeli strike. “The military solution is not a solution,” Sela called to the cheers of the crowd.
MK Dov Khenin from the Hadash party said during the protest, “I ask that he (Gilad Shalit) be returned safely. The way to return him safely is not to start a hostage ransom war that endangers us all. We must prevent additional suffering by the Israelis and Palestinians to prevent the protests next week, in two weeks, in three weeks, against the next tragedies.