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Indybay Feature

U-Haul Separation Wall at “Kibbutz Israel”

by Phil Pasquini
The exterior of the Israeli Embassy that was transformed earlier this month into “Kibbutz Israel” by human rights activists as a living reminder of the ongoing genocide in Gaza while calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, has been transformed yet again. In the “kibbutz” latest iteration, the embassy has utilized its leased public street curbside parking area in front of the building to block activists from view in favor of establishing a “separation wall.”
"Kibbuta Israel" as it looked a month ago.
WASHINGTON (03-24) – The exterior of the Israeli Embassy that was transformed earlier this month into “Kibbutz Israel” by human rights activists as a living reminder of the ongoing genocide in Gaza while calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, has been transformed yet again.

In the “kibbutz” latest iteration, the embassy has utilized its leased public street curbside parking area in front of the building to block activists from view in favor of establishing a “separation wall.” The embassy’s use of four U-Haul moving trucks parked along the curbside early last week, on which they hung large Israeli flags, has only partially concealed the “kibbutz” from public view. With a large gap between the trucks and along the sidewalk, the “kibbutz’ protest display of Palestinian flags, signs, posters and banners can still be seen.

The most profound effect of having blocked the view of the protest is that it has effectively eliminated the Israeli display of the carefully placed Israeli flags in memory of the victims of the October 7 Hamas attack, along with photos of the hostages still being held in Gaza. Another unforeseen effect is that the bullhorn sirens that protesters use during business hours is now more intensely focused at the building in their effort to disrupt business as usual.

Not unlike the famous defensive and “impenetrable ‘Maginot Line’” of WWII, the possibility, in this case of completely hiding the “kibbutz” from view, is an illusion which is visually breached and accessible by simply walking along the public sidewalk open at either end. Furthermore, the display of Palestinian flags and large banners at the embassy’s side along a busy thoroughfare, cannot be blocked by parked vehicles due to the embassy having constructed a low brick planter wall allowing only for traffic to pass with no street parking available.

This latest tactic to block the protest, while only partially effective, demonstrates just how powerful the activists’ presence is for the embassy to take such action to keep the protesters message from being seen by the passing public.

While walled in between the trucks and the property line lawn outside of the embassy fence, activists continue to stand firmly in their 24/7 presence in thwarting any attempts by those bent on removing their presence along with the memorial to Aaron Bushnell, who self-immolated there in protest of the Gaza genocide.

The embassy staff and Israeli supporters unquestionably would be desirous in clearing the sidewalk of “Kibbutz Israel” but are unable to do so being that it is a public space owned by the federal government and thusly beyond their control.

The resolute activists who occupy “Kibbutz Israel” have been tenacious in their occupation protest. During the past month since establishing their 24/7 presence, they have been subjected to death threats, intimidation, various provocations and an intermittent parade of Israeli supports walking along the sidewalk harassing them.

Activists have also endured counter protesters exercising their First Amendment rights along the sidewalks by provoking and demonstrating along the constricted walkway raising tensions by their presence and differences of opinions. Much to the credit of the human rights activists who have not “taken the bate,” the pro-Israeli groups have engaged in other acts to cause a provocation in attempting to force the ever-present Secret Service to remove the activists.

On one occasion, activists had four individuals arrested for destroying Palestinian flags that were being displayed. The group has also seen nighttime vandalism occur on an irregular basis when large banners have been slashed and cut from their frames.

Activists have avowed that they will continue their presence at “Kibbutz Israel” until there is a permanent ceasefire and an end to the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Report and photos by Phil Pasquini

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The Aaron Bushnell growing memorial.
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