Over 150,000 people demonstrated yesterday (Saturday, January 3, 2009) in Israel against Operation Cast Lead in the northern Arab town of Sakhnin and in Tel Aviv. The demonstration in Sakhnin was by far the biggest such protest in Israel. According to organizers, it was the largest protest held by the Palestinians in Israel in many years.
Marchers held Palestinian flags and pictures of children killed during the IDF operation. The protest opened with a minute of silence, in memory of Palestinians killed in Gaza since the operation began.
Also, tens of thousands of peace activists arrived at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Saturday night to protest against the military operation. The protesters marched in the streets, carrying red flags and banners that read “Stop the Bombing — End the Siege” and “Children in Gaza and Sderot Want to Live.”
Knesset members Dov Khenin and Muhammad Barakeh (Hadash) were among the political figures who attended the rally. “I came here to demonstrate along with thousands of citizens in Tel Aviv and all across the country, Jews and Arabs alike, who are calling for an end to this war, which is a disaster. It hasn’t solved the security problems in the south, and nothing good will come out of it,” said Khenin. “We came here to demand an end to the war, an agreement on a ceasefire, the opening of the border crossings, and a prisoner exchange deal,” he said. “This will be the outcome anyway, and no unnecessary blood should be spilled in the meantime.”
The demonstrators chanted “Defense Minister Barak, how many children have you murdered today?” Hundreds of right-wing activists, who demonstrated opposite the leftists in support of the IDF’s ground incursion in Gaza, chanted, “You are the cancer of this country.”
During the last week, and across the country, 471 Arabs and Jews have been arrested in protests against the deadly Israeli operation in Gaza, 149 of those minors.