Thursday, April 26, 2007

End the Occupation Now

by Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Nobel Prize Winner)

"On Friday April, 20th, 2007, my friend Ann Patterson and I joined the Bil’in Peoples Committee, a Palestinian peace group (based outside Ramallah) for their weekly nonviolent protest and march to the Apartheid Wall. We were joined by Israeli peace activists and some two hundred other activists from over 20 countries, including France, America, Puerto Rico, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Canada, and India.

Before the peace vigil, I participated in a Press Conference with the Palestinian Minister for Information, Mustafa Barghouti. Minister Barghouti praised the nonviolent vigil of the Bil’in people and the nonviolent resistance of many people around Palestine. He said that the Bil’in resistance movement was a model and example for all. He called for an end to the building of the wall, and for upholding of Palestinian rights under International Law.....

Half way down the road, Israeli soldiers started firing a mystery gas at us, and aimed plastic bullets directly at us. Later, they used water cannons. We were a completely unarmed. It was a peaceful, nonviolent gathering. This vicious attack upon civilians by the Israeli soldiers was totally unprovoked. The soldiers blocked the upper part of the road, thus preventing Dr. Barghouti and some of the Palestinians from joining the main vigil. Then we were tear gassed.

As I helped a French woman, I was shot in the leg with a rubber-covered steel bullet. I was targeted by an Israeli soldier and shot from a distance of 20 metres. This itself was illegal because such lethal weapons, under Israeli military law, are not allowed to be used within a 20 metre range.

Two young women, one from the US and the other New Zealand, helped me to an ambulance. An elderly Palestinian mother was carried away on a stretcher to another ambulance. She was shot in the back with a plastic bullet. I saw one man whose face was covered in blood; he was overcome with the gas. About 20 people were injured.....

This is not only an abuse of human rights and international law by the Israeli government; it is a health and environmental issue. We were all traumatized by the Israeli attack. With the gas on the air, I remembered the words from a Palestinian doctor, who said, “the whole Palestinian people, after 40 years of occupation, are traumatized. It is time for the International Community to act and put a stop to this suffering and injustice.”

I agree. Enough is enough. It is time for action to force the Israeli Government to enter into unconditional talks to end this tragedy upon the good and gentle Palestinian people. End the Occupation Now!"

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