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Thousands to Join ISM’s ‘Freedom Summer’ Campaign


Thousands to Join ISM’s ‘Freedom Summer’ Campaign

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said that more 2,000 people from all over the world will join forces in Palestine this summer to protest the “brutality of the [Israeli] occupation and the injustices perpetrated by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians.”

Hundreds from many countries are expected to join a “Freedom Summer” campaign from July 1 to August 15 in a non-violent confrontation with Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in an attempt to draw attention to the struggle of the Palestinian people and their just cause, ISM officials said.

The ISM has been renowned for its peaceful anti-occupation activities in West Bank and Gaza Strip during the past two years.

Huwaida Arraf, spokesperson and coordinator of the ISM, and Adam Shapiro, organizers of the ISM, said in an interview with the Gulf News that volunteers from the Arab world, the West and several other countries will converge on the West Bank and Gaza Strip to march through some cities before staging a sit-in near Nablus city.

“The ISM is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and International activists working to raise awareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to Israeli occupation,” Huwaida explained.

Along with her husband, Adam Shapiro, she visited a number of Arab countries, stopping in Abu Dhabi for two days.

On the purpose of their visit, Shapiro said, “We are trying to combine efforts to support the Palestinians and to encourage Arabs to join and support our campaigns whether it is by sponsoring another individual to visit Palestine or by contributing to the foundation.”

Arraf said, “We are trying to change the image that we are victims. Yes Israel is strong but we are stronger, working together we can beat them.”

“They send a lot of food, medicines, blankets. All this is very important but it is not helping the Palestinian people to fight Israel or prevent the continuous brutalities committed against the people,” she added.

Arraf also called for Arabs to boycott American and Israeli products and for the Arab media to shed light on the Palestinian resistance rather than their defeat.

Arraf pointed out, “The first few days of the campaigns are reserved for orientation and non-violence training. Activists are equipped with practical, logistical and legal information. Also work structures and affinity groups are formed, responsibilities are assigned and strategies and methodology are discussed.”

In less than two years of ISM presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, the group has welcomed over 1,000 observers from all over the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere.

Almost 20 percent of the volunteers have been Jewish. The average age is over 30 — many are over 50, and there have even been volunteers in their 70s.

Israelis, too, have worked with ISM and have faced the same levels of violence from IOF soldiers and settlers, ISM says.

Activists Face Israeli Violence

Recently, the Israeli government has stepped up its crackdown on the ISM activists by arresting and deporting them and blocking new peace activists from entering the occupied Palestinian territory.

The crackdown followed tragic months for the foreign activists.

Rachel Corrie, an American, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while Tom Hurndall, a British activist, went into a coma after being shot in the head by an Israeli occupation army sniper.

Corrie was trying to prevent Israeli bulldozers from demolishing Palestinian houses in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

Fellow ISM activists who witnessed Corrie’s death said the American was crushed to death by the Israeli army bulldozer in Rafah in what they said was a deliberate act of murder.

The ISM said the bulldozer ran over her and then backed up.

The ISM activists who were with the young pacifist said the driver had seen her and had deliberately killed her and drove over her twice before pulling away.

Pictures taken by the ISM also showed Corrie, who was wearing a florescent vest in broad daylight, was in full view of the driver.

Hurndall, a British ISM member lies in coma in a hospital with severe brain damage after he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper as he tried to help Palestinian children caught in Israeli line of fire in Rafah.

He was shot wearing a similar bright florescent vest as Corrie was when she was killed.

Another American peace activist was seriously injured two months ago when IOF shot him in the face with a heavy caliber bullet in the northern West Bank town of Jenin.

Brian Avery was taken to the hospital in Jenin where he was treated from shrapnel wounds to his face.

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