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Climate groups hold rally for hostages but Greta Thunberg's Israel branch says it's being ignored

The rally comes after Thunberg wrote an op-ed that did not mention the hostages but accused Israel of genocide.

Published: December 10, 2023 10:48pm

Updated: December 12, 2023 1:06pm

Hundreds of Israeli climate activists rallied to support the families of hostage by taken Hamas on Oct. 7 and to demand their release, but some international climate organizations have been ignoring or clashing with their Israeli counterparts. 

"How can we talk about environmental justice when basic human rights were violated on Oct. 7 and continue to be violated to this very day? When crimes against humanity were committed, people were raped, tortured, murdered, thousands of people, when innocent civilians and soldiers were kidnapped," Dr. Nirit Lavi-Alon, a longtime climate activist, said Sunday at the rally in Tel Aviv.

Lavi-Alon represented the families of the hostages at the rally, as her son's partner, 27-year-old art student Inbar Haiman, is presumed to be held hostage in Gaza. 

The climate activists held yellow umbrellas and a giant banner stating, "BRING OUR SUNSHINE BACK," at the rally, which coincided with International Human Rights Day.

"The purpose of the display is to convey a message - every kidnapped person is a world in their own right and a ray of sunshine to their surroundings, and to us all. Just as the sun symbolizes in the climate and environmental world, the good and the future - so too does the return of the kidnapped," the rally's organizers told Just the News. 

The activists were from several climate groups, including Strike for Future, which is the Israeli branch of Greta Thunberg's Fridays for Future, as well as Greenpeace Israel. The demonstration also included Israeli organizations such as the Society for the Protection of Nature, Green Course, "Adam, Teva V'Din," Zalul, EcoOcean and others. 

A representative from Israel's Strike for Future said that the international Fridays for Future has not contacted them since Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 others. 

"The lack of contact with us and the lack of condemnation for the massacre/terrorist attack carried out on October 7 are both decisions that do not correspond to the values ​​of climate justice," the spokesperson told Just the News via email. "There is no contradiction between the condemnation of the massacre and the sorrow for the victims of Gaza, sorrow to see Fridays for Future disregard the terrorist attack."

On Tuesday, the group sought to clarify its statement, explaining, "We had a lack of communication on our part" with Fridays for Future, which may have contributed to how the international group did not contact the Israel group.

Thunberg, the 20-year-old who became a climate activist icon after she addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, has been vocal about her support for Palestine since the Oct. 7 attack, as has her organization. This led Fridays for Future affiliates in IsraelGermany and Austria to distance themselves from the international organization. 

Greenpeace Israel is in a similar situation as Israel's Strike for Future. Greenpeace International first voiced a call for a ceasefire on Oct. 17 and called for all hostages to be released, but in its latest statement on the conflict on Dec. 1, Greenpeace did not mention the hostages but said: "Greenpeace is appalled by the return to violence in Palestine. We demand a comprehensive CEASEFIRE NOW!"

It is unclear whether Greenpeace Israel has been in contact with the international movement since Oct. 7, but the national group said it is calling "on the international community to do everything possible to return the abductees to their waiting families."

The group also criticized Thunberg's support for Palestine. "It is important for us to emphasize that Greta represents herself. Although she has become a symbol of the climate struggle, she certainly does not represent the entire movement and of course, she has no direct connection to Greenpeace," the Israeli branch of the international movement said after Thunberg spoke at a rally last month in support of Palestine.

Additionally, 28-year-old hostage Yotam Haim, the son of a longtime Greenpeace Israel supporter, is believed to be held hostage in Gaza, so the group is specifically highlighting his plight on their website.

The rally Sunday comes after Thunberg wrote an op-ed in The Guardian last week. She did not mention the hostages but accused Israel of genocide and being an apartheid state. 

Greenpeace Israel did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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