Women Protest Israeli Occupation

Women in Black and Women for Women Political Prisoners are two Israeli-based groups working to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Women in Black organizes weekly vigils in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to protest the Israeli government actions against the Palestinians. Women for Women Political Prisoners, founded in May, assists Palestinian prisoners and their families, as well as working to raise the Israeli public’s consciousness regarding the Palestinian plight.

Since December 1987, over 5,000 Palestinians have been detained under administrative detention orders. As of July, there were 28 Palestinian women and two Israeli Jewish women who are being held in Israeli jails, according to Shoshanna Kahn, a member of Women for Women Political Prisoners.

Ranging in age from 15 to 65, they are either under administrative detention, “suspected without charge” or pretrial for participating in demonstrations, stone throwing and incitement. The two Jewish women, editors of Derech HaNitzoz, a recently closed leftist newspaper, have been accused of receiving funding from a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Women for Women Political Prisoners keeps an updated list of women political prisoners. Each prisoner is “adopted” by a member of the group whose responsibilities include bringing weekly packages to the prisoner, contacting her family and being present as an observer at any hearings or trials, according to Kahn. Upon release, the women in the group meet the prisoner at the prison gate, ensure that she arrives home safely and maintain ties with her.

Also, in New York, the Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation has been staging weekly protests in front of the Jewish Agency building on Park Avenue, calling on leaders of the American Jewish community to work for peace in the Middle East.