RAMALLAH, August 20 (JMCC) - Israel's July 14 protests will continue as planned on Saturday, recast as a memorial for eight Israelis killed by seven attackers in southern Israel Thursday, reports
Israel has carried out repeated bombings of Gaza, claiming the attacks originated there. Fifteen Palestinians were killed in the raids.
Saturday night’s main rally will take the the form of a quiet memorial march with torches and candles. It will leave from the Habima square at the top of the Rothschild protest camp at 8pm, and proceed towards the seaside park of Charles Chlore, where open discussion circles on violence, bereavement and conflict will be held. Quiet memorial marches and discussions will also take place in places slated for the usual social justice protests, such as Jerusalem, Hod Hasharon and other cities.
The decision comes after an earlier announcement by National Union of Students chief Itzik Shmuli that all protest events will be canceled elicited a fierce backlash from rank-and-file protesters. The demand not to cancel the rallies was picked up by left-wing and right-wing Israelis alike; the former argued that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government should not be allowed to distract from the protests through an escalation on the Gaza front, while the latter were outraged by the notion of allowing a terrorist organization to do away with a popular Israeli protest that didn’t yield to Israel’s own government.
Others pointed out the connection between the conflict and the dire situation of Israel’s welfare state, and some made a direct link between the attacks and the need to relocate more funds from the military budget to the welfare and healthcare services for bereaved families and the survivors of political violence. The Tent 1948 Palestinian-Jewish group on Rothschild issued a statement of its own “This is the time to show real strength”, the statement read. ”Stay on the streets, condemn the violence and refuse go either home or to the Army to take part in the revenge attack on Gaza.”
The discontent with cancellation of the rallies soon spilled from online arguments into protesters spontaneously organizing rallies of their own. A few hours later, the national leadership of the J14 announced the new plan for Saturday night. It made no mention of Shmuli’s controversial statement.