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As Gaza Plunges Into Darkness, Israeli and Palestinian Fighters-Turned Peace Activists Speak Out
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 :The United Nations is accusing Israel of collectively punishing the Palestinian population in Gaza by cutting off fuel supplies as part of a blockade of the Gaza Strip. In the midst of the deepening crisis, we speak with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists Yonatan Shapira and Bassam Aramin. They are from a group called Combatants for Peace that is made up of former fighters from both Israel and the Occupied Territories. Shapira is a former captain in the Israeli Air Force and Black Hawk Pilot Squadron. Aramin was an armed member of Fatah and spent seven years in an Israeli prison. His 10 year-old daughter Abir was shot dead by an Israeli soldier last year.
Following widespread international criticism, Israel has agreed to allow some food, medicine and fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip that depends on Israel for fuel and electricity. The move comes after three days of air strikes last week that killed 30 Palestinians and four days of total closure and almost no electricity. Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said the temporary easing of restrictions was not a long-term solution.
Israeli officials agreed to temporarily lift the blockade after protests around the world and censure from the European Union. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed his party on Monday and denied exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
In the midst of this deepening crisis I spoke to an Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, Yonatan Shapira and Bassam Aramin. They are from a group called Combatants for Peace that is made up of former fighters from both Israel and Palestine. Bassam Aramin spent seven years in an Israeli prison and was an armed member of Fatah, the Palestinian political faction once led by Yasser Arafat. Bassam’s 10-year old daughter Abir died one year ago after being shot by Israeli soldiers while she was on her way home from school.
Yonatan Shapira was a captain in the Israeli Air Force and Black Hawk Pilot Squadron. In 2003 he authored “The Pilot’s Letter”, refusing to participate in attacks against Palestinians. I spoke to the two former fighters on Thursday about their efforts for peace and their thoughts on the attacks in Gaza.`
Yonatan Shapira, Former Captain in the Israeli Air Force and Black Hawk Pilot Squadron. In 2003 he authored “The Pilot’s Letter”, refusing to participate in attacks in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Bassam Aramin, Former Fatah fighter, now a peace activist with “Combatants for Peace.” Spent 7 years in an Israeli prison. His 10-year old daughter Abir was killed on January 16, 2007 when an Israeli Border Police jeep fired rubber bullets in a school zone. He is also the head of the Al Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue.
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