Police Violently Break up Women’s Peace March
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Police fired tear gas, pulled demonstrators by their hair and struck them with night sticks to break up a peace march in Jerusalem on Friday by more than 3,000 Israeli, Palestinian and European women.
The hour-long procession from Jewish west Jerusalem to Arab east Jerusalem was without incident until the end, when an outlawed Palestinian flag was raised and police moved in to disperse the marchers.
Police said that 16 people were detained, and reporters saw police drag several women away by their hair or clothes. Some were struck with night sticks, and several were kicked.
The women’s march was part of a program organized by peace actisits that is to culminate Saturday with 1,200 visiting Europeans expected to link hands with Israelis and Palestinians in a ″human chain″ around Jerusalem’s Old City.
The ″1990 - Time for Peace″ demonstration Saturday is intended to symbolize the unity of peace activists who endorse a negotiated Middle East peace settlement.
Meanwhile, the army said Friday that soldiers accidentally shot two 12- year-old Palestinian boys during an assault on masked Arabs a day earlier in the occupied Gaza Strip. Both were reported in good condition at a Gaza hospital.
Arab reports said the boys were on their way to the local wholesale market on a donkey cart in predawn darkness when they were shot.
The army spokesman’s office initially said that all four Palestinians wounded in the incident were masked troublemakers, but on Friday an army statement said that ″apparently children were near the group of masked people and therefore injured by gunfire.″
Also Friday, a Palestinian suspected of collaborating with Israel was hacked to death by masked Arabs in Gaza’s Khan Yunis refugee camp, Arab reports said. He was identified as Ahmad Mohammed Abu Shahmeh, 56.
His death raised to 164 the number of Palestinians killed by fellow Arabs during the two-year Palestinian uprising. Most were suspected of collaboration.
A total of 640 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis in the uprising, and 43 Israelis also have died.
The peace march in Jerusalem began quietly, with streams of European, Israeli and Palestinian women meeting near Jerusalem’s Old City and marching toward east Jerusalem.
An Israeli participant in the march, school principal Alice Shalvi, said she hoped that the demonstration would influence politicians.
″It reassures us that there is someone to talk to,″ she said. ″The fact that there are Jewish women and Arab women here proves the point that it can be done.″
The marchers sang ″We Shall Overcome″ and shouted peace slogans en route to their destination, the Hakawati Theater.
As the first of the marchers reached the theater’s courtyard, someone raised a Palestinian flag and police moved in to remove it.
Police spokesman Uzi Sandori said the police met with resistance and used tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd. He said no one was seriously injured.
Women screamed and fought with police officers as some of their group were detained and dragged off to a police van.
Dacia Valent, an Italian who is a member of the European Parliament, was taken into custody when she argued with police against making arrests. She later was released.
Police said the others detained included three more Italians, one French citizen, four Palestinian-Americans, one Israeli and six Palestinians. All foreigners were later released.
After the melee, trampled peace signs littered the courtyard.
Friday’s program began with European women joining an Israeli protest group, Women in Black, at their weekly silent vigil protesting continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
About two dozen Israeli men and women heckled the peace demonstrators, but others showed support by distributing flowers, candy and cakes.
″I would like us to be really a peace presence,″ said Cristina Savio, 36, a publishing house employee from Torino, Italy. ″Of course, it’s easier for us ... because we’re going away after a week, but it’s a way of saying we are there.″