Hunger strikers in protest against Israel's Separation Wall

 The ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Friday, calling Israel's 'Separation Wall' illegal, has been welcomed by hunger strikers in a tent on the northern outskirts of Jerusalem. The group hunger strike, called to bring attention to the humanitarian consequences of the Wall and led by Israeli-Arab Knesset member Doctor Azmi Bishara, began on July 3. Israelis, Palestinians and people from around the world, including members of the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), have joined the nonviolent action. "It gives us much hope," Bishara said in reference to the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) ruling. "We are starving here, but we are very hopeful. Now, it's not just us saying that the Wall is illegal but the ICJ as well." One of the specific points that the ICJ's ruling drew attention to was the illegality of Israel constructing parts of its Wall on occupied Palestinian land rather than on its own internationally-recognized territory. Bishara, one of two Christian members of the Knesset, Israel's legislature, used the town of A-Ram as the base for his hunger strike because most of A-Ram's 66,000 residents hold Jerusalem IDs and work in Jerusalem. Following the completion of the Wall's construction, most will be denied access to Jerusalem and will therefore lose their livelihoods- as will many other communities throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. "We want to make it clear that this Wall means life and death for Jerusalem and the whole of Palestinian society," Bishara said. "We have used all the parliamentary tools and we will continue to use them. But that has not been enough to show the severity of the situation. This is not only about apartheid, separating Israelis from Palestinians. It's also about annexation of land, separating Palestinians from Palestinians and getting rid of Palestinians. For Palestinian society, the Wall is absolutely destructive because it separates families and destroys economic and cultural life and people's ability to go to school and work." The hunger strike has been criticized by some as too drastic. But Bishara said: "The situation is drastic, but nobody is doing anything. Now, I'm using my position to draw attention to it. The world can't just overlook the situation anymore; they have to do something as well. And we will not be happy only with a condemnation on the building of the Wall." Bishara's initiative has been supported by people from across Palestinian and Israeli religious and secular society as well as by members of the international community. Others joining in the hunger strike have included: Archimandrite Atallah Hanna, a Palestinian in the Greek Orthodox Church; Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, chief judge of the Islamic Supreme Sharia'a Court; and Michael Warchawski, an Israeli and Co-chair of the joint Palestinian-Israeli Alternative Information Centre. Ecumenical Accompaniers Matt Robson from England, Martin Smedjeback from Sweden and Motlatsi Xhalabile of South Africa participated in the hunger strike for one day to show their support. Wandile Kuse, an Anglican priest, and Hermina Damons, from South Africa also attended the gathering. Source: Ekklesia/CISA/AT

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