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Borrowing from Gandhi? Palestinian passive resistance gains followers

Palestinian passive resistance protests are gaining favor with some West Bank politicians and the public. But unlike Gandhi's followers, militancy and stone throwing remain deeply ingrained.

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As has become ritual in this Palestinian village for the last five years, every Friday several hundred demonstrators march toward Israel's security fence - and toward a confrontation with soldiers stationed on the other side.

Wearing a T-shirt with a picture of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., this past Friday Ashraf Abu Rahmeh joined demonstrators chanting against the security barrier – declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. Despite the fact that his brother, Bassem, was killed by the Israeli army in a similar demonstration last year, Mr. Rahmeh says he's not seeking revenge.

"God will take revenge,'' Rahmeh says. "I support non-violence because the image of Palestinians is that we are peace loving."

But seconds later, several youths begin to hurl rocks at the fence. Soon, hissing canisters of tear gas rain down around the demonstrators, enveloping them in smoke. One injured demonstrator, face bloodied, is ushered away from scene after a tear gas canister strikes him in the forehead.

Within a few minutes, the "non-violent" protest is broken up.


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