November 6th, Day #5

Suleiman al-Hamri, West Bank, Palestinian co-founder, Combatants for Peace – former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian former prisoners

Suleiman al-Hamri, Palestinian Founder, Combatants for Peace, West Bank

Suleiman al-Hamri, Palestinian Founder, Combatants for Peace, West Bank

On the founding of Combatants for Peace: “The first meeting was held at my house in Bethlehem in 2005,” Al Hamri recalled. “It was a little bizarre. The Israelis had to go through settler roads, then walk to an olive grove, where cars would pick them up. The Palestinians thought it was a trap, and they would be arrested or killed.”

The Israelis feared for their own lives as well.

Al Hamri’s turn from violence to nonviolence occurred when he was being held under Israeli administrative detention in Ketziot Prison, a violent place. There, in 1993, the Palestinian political prisoners were paid a surprise visit by Prime Minister Rabin, who said he regarded them as the genuine Palestinian leadership on the ground and wanted to negotiate peace with them.

“Rabin was known for his violence against Palestinians during the first intifada, which was nonviolent,” Al Hamri noted. “I saw then that it was possible for an Israeli leader to change. It made me think that another way out of the conflict was possible, that dialogue with the Israelis was possible.”

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