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Palestinians Unite to Call For Hostages' Release

Palestinians Unite to Call For Release of Four Peace Activist Hostages in Ira

qSince the first video of the four Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) members being held hostage in Iraq was released a few days ago, Palestinians all over the West Bank and Gaza have been calling for their release unharmed. The CPT is well known for its work against the occupations in both Iraq and Palestine. It is probably most well known in Palestine for its work against the religious-fundamentalist Israeli settlers in Hebron.

Yesterday in Tuwani, locals held a demonstration calling for the release of the four. Palestinian women and children held up picture of the kidnapped peace activists and held up signs in Arabic saying things such as, "We ask you to release the CPT members. They work in international solidarity for civil rights."

On the 1st of December, 300 Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah in solidarity with the four. The demonstration was attended by Abu Hasan Morrar a representative of the Islamic Council of Palestine, Shawkat Samha the mayor of the town of Jayyous, Fatima Asi of the Women For Life group in the Salfit region and Mustafa Barghouti the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. All called passionately for the hostage's release, as demonstrators held up signs in Arabic and English describing the four as their friends.

A statement on behalf of the Popular Committees Against the Wall was read adding to the call. Palestinians and internationals who know the hostages personally were on the demonstration which was attended by Palestinians from Bil'in who spoke and called on the kidnappers to release the hostages.

TV stations like Al- Jazeera and Al-Arabiya broadcasted stories about the demonstration to viewers in Iraq and around the world. Palestinian militant groups have also called for the immediate release of the peace activists. The Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades released a statement saying that "these activists are the friends of the martyr Rachel Corrie who was killed while protecting Palestinian homes in Gaza. We know who these people are and like us they stand against the apartheid wall and the Israeli occupation. We call on the kidnappers to release these people so they can come to Palestine to stand on the side of oppressed people."

The National and Islamic Forces in Hebron issued a statement signed by such militant/political groups as Hamas and the DFLP saying that they "confirm that the CPTers have a very strong role in facing Israeli crimes and in protecting the life of the Palestinians. They have put themselves in many situations in front of Israeli tanks. They have confronted Israeli bulldozers and home demolitions and escorted our children to and from their schools to protectthem from settlers. Because of all their activities, members of CPT have been followed, arrested and beaten by Israeli soldiers and settlers on many occasions."

Religious leaders have also joined the calls. "We demand that these aid workers be released immediately," said Mufti Ikrema Sabri, Palestine's top Muslim clergyman.

"We tell them that these aid workers have stood beside Palestinian people and it's our duty now to stand beside them."

Mustafa Jayyousi a local Palestinian activist in Jayyous who knew Tom said, "When he worked in Jayyous, Tom was part of a group who went down to the gates everyday with local farmers to help them access their lands made inaccessible by the wall. He also participated in demonstrations with the people of Jayyous against the apartheid Wall in Jayyous."

Mohammed Ayyesh a local Palestinian activist in Balata camp, Nablus said of Harmeet, "I was touch with Harmeet and was looking forward to him coming here to work next week. We must do everything we can to secure his release."

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