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JERUSALEM Iker Casillas Spain Jersey , April 23 (Xinhua) -- As Israel marked its annual Memorial Day for soldier and civilian casualties of armed conflict with Arab countries, some 3,200 Israelis and Palestinians from the West Bank gathered in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night to commemorate victims of violence from both sides.
The ceremony, held for the tenths consecutive year under the title: "Making Peace: Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day," was broadcast live in Beit Jala, a Palestinian town east of Jerusalem Hector Bellerin Spain Jersey , where dozens of Palestinian activists denied entry permits to Israel gathered to watch it.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu congratulated the attendants in a special video-message. "Change is possible," the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner told them. "Consider our experience in South Africa, you can make it happen in Palestine and Israel too," he said.
Official Israeli memorial services typically glorify the bravery of Israeli soldiers in battle and emphasize the importance of military power. Under Israeli law, Memorial Day commemorates only Israeli soldiers or civilian casualties of "hostile activities."
The "Alternative Ceremony," as it came to be known Gerard Pique Spain Jersey , is organized by Combatants for Peace, former Israeli and Palestinian fighters currently working towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict, along with the Parents Circle-Family Forum, a group of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families.
"We recognize each other's pain," Avner Horwitz, whose father was killed in a 1990 Palestinian attack on an Israeli tourist bus in Egypt Diego Costa Spain Jersey , told Xinhua.
"The understanding that we are not only victims of the conflict but also its perpetrators led us to call for change to end the cycle of bereavement," he added.
The service was hosted by an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, in both Hebrew and Arabic.
An Israeli mother of a fallen soldier shared her pain with the audience, followed by a 27-year-old Palestinian from the village of Salem in the West Bank, who recounted how her father was killed by a Jewish settler in September 2004.
Youth from the Dheisha refugee camp south of Bethlehem sent a video greeting, saying that many more wished to attend the ceremony but the Israeli military only issued 100 permits.
COMMEMORATION AMIDST A YEAR OF GREAT LOSS
The past year witnessed increased animosity between Israelis and Palestinians.
Around 2 David de Gea Spain Jersey ,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip, and 116 Israeli soldiers and 31 civilians died, mainly during the Gaza war and in a surge of individual attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Either despite or because of these dire statistics, this year's ceremony attendance levels broke records David Silva Spain Jersey , as thousands of people crammed the hall at the convention center where it was held, and hundreds more remained outside as no seats were left, said Tamar Halfon, spokesperson for Combatants for Peace.
For most Israelis, however, the idea of acknowledging the pain of bereaved Palestinians is considered insensitive and even traitorous Cesc Fabregas Spain Jersey , since Palestinian militants are deemed "terrorists" whether they were targeting civilians or soldiers.
About a dozen Israelis echoed that sentiment, as they rallied outside the service holding Israeli flags.
"Memorial Day should be devoted only to our soldiers," said Sima, who gave her first name only. "It is a shame they are holding a ceremony for terrorists, it's an embarrassment for the State of Israel," she said. "For our country Cesar Azpilicueta Spain Jersey , a good Arab is a dead one!" she declared to an applauding crowd.
A few days before the ceremony, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was pressured by the Samaria Residents Council-a political group representing Jewish settlers in the West Bank-and bereaved families, urging him not to permit entry of Palestinians into Israel, calling the service a "provocation."
"I can understand their position," said Bassam Aramin, a 47-year-old resident of the Jerusalem Palestinian suburb of Anata. "They are victims of an oppressive narrative which cannot recognize the other side as equal Bruno Spain Jersey ," Aramin said.
In 2007, two years after he co-founded Combatants for Peace, Aramin's 10-year-old daughter Abir was shot dead by an Israeli soldier on her way back home from school.
Grief-stricken Aramin made non-violent struggle for ending the occupation the focus of his life.
In Palestinian society too, sharing the pain of bereavement with Israelis is criticized by most, who consider ending the Israeli occupation a prerequisite for reconciliation.
"Some of my neighbors told me, 'how can you meet with the terrorists who killed your child?'" said Aramin. "But this is my courage Blank Spain Jersey ," he explained, "I look to the future, not the past, towards a peaceful solution for both sides.
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