Non violent Palestinian activist arrives in Australia
Saif Abukeshek, a co-ordinator of the non-violent Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, has arrived in Australia to address public meetings on "the non-violent Palestinian resistance to Israeli military occupation."
Mr Abukeshek, a youth worker in the Nablus refugee camps, is speaking to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Palestinian and Arabic groups.
As someone who has never known life outside a refugee camp, he also wants to be "a kind of live witness" for what daily life is like for Palestinians who have been refugees since 1948.
His family was from Jaffa but he was born in the Askar refugee camp at Nablus, where 13,000 people "live on the same piece of land" given to 500 in 1956.
There is no privacy or space for children to play. Sanitation is a problem, a curfew operates, and 70 civilians, including a 10-year-old child standing in the street, have been killed in the present Infitada.
A total of 3000 Palestinians civilians have been killed in the past three years, and 350 Palestinian children are held in Israeli detention centres and jails, Mr Abukeshek said.
He bears a scar on his chin, a wound from an Israeli bullet in May 2002 when he attended an anniversary protest where 10 were killed.
The International Solidarity Movement was formed to support Palestinian non-violent resistance, which has existed for some time, he said.
"In the second Intifada, we realised the military occupation was targeting civilians, targeting each protest, so there was a need for a third body which can try and provide a space for the Palestinians to practise their rights."
Mr Abukeshek maintains Palestinians also have a right to armed resistance "against the military occupation".
Two ISM peace workers, American Rachel Corrie and Briton Tom Hurndall, were killed in 2003 by the Israeli military.
The organisation's philosophy is: "If we are attacked verbally by the soldiers of the colonisers, or physically, we don't act in the same way."
Mr Abukeshek said a group inside Israel called Ta'ayosh was trying to establish a dialogue with Palestinians. Israeli anti-occupation activists were prepared to risk arrest to enter the West Bank and Gaza to meet Palestinians, he said.