Peace activists have taken part in a protest in Israel’s third-largest city, Haifa, demanding a ceasefire in the war on Gaza and the exchange of captives and prisoners between Hamas and Israel.
“This is the first time we are seeing this protest happen in the north,” said Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from Haifa on Saturday.
“It’s a protest with Israeli Jews and Palestinian Israelis, and it is significant because of the two coming together.
“The message here is to end the war and that they can only live peacefully side by side with a political solution for the Palestinians,” she said.
Omri Evron, a member of the Communist Party of Israel, who helped organise the anti-war protest, spoke to Al Jazeera about the message the protesters were hoping to convey.
“The killing of thousands and thousands of Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are innocent civilians, is not only reprehensible, it does not serve the security of the people of Israel. It does not bring us security, it only ensures the next massacre, the next cycle of violence,” he said.
“Currently, they [the protestors] are chanting “refuse to kill, refuse to fight, refuse to murder” – this is our call.”
Evron admitted there were difficulties in organising a protest of this kind.
“It has been difficult, not because there aren’t Jews and Arabs who want to come together who believe in a joint future of peace and equality and national liberation of both people in two states,” he explained.
“It has been difficult because the government and the police in particular have done everything in their power to prevent us from coming together, to prevent us from voicing a lawful and peaceful voice. We had to appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice just to allow us to come together and demonstrate.”
Al Jazeera’s Dekker said the protesters were not allowed to march, and officials said the protest could not be held at night. But several hundred people were finally able to gather for two hours during the day.