Southern residents protest Gaza violence in Beersheba

30 residents of Gaza-vicinity communities, Beersheba and the surrounding Beduin villages denounce "the ongoing violence on both sides of the conflict."

By ABE SELIG
January 6, 2009 23:13
2 minute read.

Thirty residents of Gaza-vicinity communities, Beersheba and the surrounding Beduin villages demonstrated in front of the Beersheba court house on Tuesday, denouncing "the ongoing violence on both sides of the conflict." The protesters held signs - in English, Arabic and Hebrew - calling on Hamas and the government to talk rather than fight. "I'm in favor of dialogue between the two sides and I hope that our voices here today will be heard," said Suleiman, a Beduin from Kis'aifa. "For a long time, the Beduin community has felt as though they are between a rock and a hard place in Israel - we're treated suspiciously by both Arabs and Jews," he said. "But enough of that. What I'm here to say today is that we're in favor of peace and reconciliation, and putting an end to this conflict once and for all." Others echoed his sentiments, telling The Jerusalem Post they were fed up with the violence from both sides, and that as residents of the South, they were on the receiving end of part of it. "I'm a student at Sapir College [outside Sderot], so I know what it's like to be under fire," said Leor Kay, who is originally from Tel Aviv. "But I'm against violence in every place and in every form, and that's why I'm out here today." Beersheba residents were less than pleased at the protest, which was held minutes away from Soroka University Medical Center, were scores of soldiers wounded in Gaza were being treated. "These people have no shame!" one man yelled. "How would they feel if it was their son or brother over there in Soroka? How dare they come out here and throw garbage on our soldiers like this?" Others were just as upset, and approached the demonstration to voice their anger. "Where have you been for the last eight years if you're so against violence?" another resident yelled at them. "Did you go to Gaza and protest what they've been doing in Sderot?" Some were more understanding, but condemned the rally nonetheless. "Listen, I'm against violence, too," said one man, who had stopped to have a look. "But this is a war, and we have to defend ourselves." At one point, police arrived and told the demonstrators they had to split the protest into groups of three, in accordance with the instructions given by the Home Front Command not to gather in large groups so as not to offer the rockets easy targets. The protesters complied, but the hecklers continued to yell at them, as they begin to move around to another side of the courthouse. Some of the protesters tried to talk to the angry crowd, but to no avail. "This is the worst result of democracy in Israel," one heckler said. "I'm sorry to hear you say that," a protester replied as the man walked away. By the end of the demonstration, some 50 protesters had arrived at the courthouse. They continued to absorb epithets from passersby. "We're standing strong," one of the protesters said. "It's not pleasant, but this is what we have to do if we want our voices to be heard."


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