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Israeli-Palestinian bridges crumble under sorrow, anger over Douma murders

The female volunteers of the Israeli Machsom Watch activist group are supporting the Dawabsha family while Riham and Ahmad Dawabsha fight for their lives in the hospital, but some of their students are too hurt and angry to continue seeing them.
A man lights a candle in memory of 18-month-old Palestinian boy Ali Dawabsheh during a protest condemning Friday's arson attack in the West Bank, at Rabin square in Tel Aviv August 1, 2015. Some 3,000 demonstrators gathered for the rally organised by the Israeli anti-settler group Peace Now against the attack by suspected Jewish assailants who torched a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank on Friday, killing an 18-month-old toddler and seriously injuring three other family members, an act that Israel'

This is a story that alternates between despair and hope, one strewn with disappointment. It is also a story of women who tried to establish a bridge of rapprochement, understanding and coexistence, and discovered how brittle and fragile the foundations were.

It began about three years ago with the women of Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch), a nongovernmental organization of Israeli women objecting to the movement restrictions imposed on Palestinians by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoints. The women wanted to deepen their activities within Palestinian villages in Samaria after two large IDF checkpoint crossings, Hawara and Beit Iba, were dismantled. Two veteran members of the organization, Dvora Oreg and Ra’aya Golmov, offered to organize English study groups for female Palestinian residents. Since those classes opened, Israeli-Palestinian relations have known many ups and downs. Every shock wave, such as the Protective Edge campaign in July and August of 2014, put another crack in the bridge they labored so hard to build.

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