Israeli women launch fast for peace on Gaza war anniversary

Agence France-Presse
Israeli women shout slogans during a march outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on March 4, 2015 as part of an initiative called 'Women wage Peace' urging lawmakers to act for a political agreement with the Palestinians.

Israeli Jews and Arabs launched a collective fast on Wednesday — the anniversary of last year's Gaza war — to back their demands for peace with the Palestinians.

Members of the "Women Wage Peace" group set up a protest tent outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official Jerusalem residence and plan to take it in turns to fast over the course of 50 days, the length of the 2014 confrontation.

The women are to fast in groups of five for 25 or 50 hours then hand over to another relay, said group founder Marie-Lyne Smadja, a sign around her neck reading "I am fasting" as she and others sat next to the tent.

The 54-year-old mother said nearly 300 women have signed up for the protest.

"Just as we prove our determination by launching this fast, we ask our government to take the initiative and finally propose an alternative to the incessant cycle of wars," she said.

"Fasting is the most peaceful means of crying out that we cannot go from one war to the next and send our children (to take part) without a response," said 50-year-old mother of three Galit Massader.

Amal Abu Rihan Ramadan, who teaches Arabic in the mixed Arab-Jewish Tel Aviv district of Jaffa, hoped Israeli leaders would "finally understand that we can not live like this, in hate and fear."

Over the past six years there have been three Gaza wars between Israel and Palestinian militants, mainly the Islamic movement Hamas which is the de facto power in the coastal enclave.

The conflict last July-August claimed the lives of 2,251 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. Seventy-three people were killed on the Israeli side, including 67 soldiers.