By Nick Clark and Sophie Squire
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International round up: Rampaging Israelis chant ‘Death to Arabs’

Palestinian woman hit with pepper spray during Israeli Flag day in Jerusalem. Plus, left challenge in Colombia's presidential election
Issue 2807
Two protesters join Palestine protest in London, 2021, illustrating a story a story about Israeli violence against Palestinians

Thousands joined protests in London last year to demand Palestine be free. Picture: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr

Tens of thousands of Israelis marched through occupied east Jerusalem on Sunday, attacking, threatening and taunting Palestinians. Large sections of the annual Flag March chanted, “Death to Arabs” and “May your villages burn.”

They also chanted, “Shuafat is in flames”—a reference to Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who Israelis burned to death in 2014. Video footage of the march shows an Israeli firing pepper spray into a Palestinian woman’s face. After the march, gangs of Israelis attacked homes in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah—where Palestinians are resisting evictions by Israeli settlers. 

And Israeli border cops allowed some 2,600 Israelis into the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque. It’s a symbolic site of Palestinian life in the city, which Israelis want to claim for their own, and which Palestinians have fought to defend. Israeli border cops responded by attacking Palestinian counter-protesters. 

The Israeli government endorsed the march, which is part of an annual holiday where Israelis celebrate the anniversary of east Jerusalem’s invasion and capture in 1967. Palestinians there have lived under military occupation—and faced systematic attempts to push them from their homes ever since. 

Former guerrilla now fights for presidency in Colombia 

A left wing former guerrilla fighter will face a right wing businessman in the race to become president of Colombia this month.  Gustavo Petro was a member of the militant 19 April Movement when he was a teenager but, following the direction of the group, turned to mainstream politics in the 1990s.

He is now head of left wing party, Humane Colombia. He promises to promote green energy over fossil fuels, raise taxes on the rich and oppose neoliberalism. 

Petro won most of the votes in the first round but didn’t cross the 50 percent line to win the presidency outright. His right wing rival, Rodolfo Hernandez, is infamous for telling a radio interviewer that he admired Adolf Hitler.  The election comes just a year after massive protests against current president Ivan Duque’s plan to raise taxes on essential items. 

The large vote for Petro is a sign of a leftward shift in Colombia, and shows people are tired of the right.  But the presidential run-off on 19 June also shows polarisation. A win for Petro would challenge the elite, but only struggle on the streets, and in colleges and workplaces can secure real change.

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