A broad coalition of Israeli women's groups is organizing the first large demonstration against the IDF's counter-terror operation in Gaza, "Cast Lead." The demonstration, which organizers believe will be "huge," will take place in Haifa Friday and will call on Israel to accept the international initiatives for an immediate ceasefire.

The organizers number 18 groups, including the Coalition of Women for Peace (itself a coalition which includes groups like Machsom Watch and Women in Black), Ahoti, Ruach Nashit, Isha L'Isha, Bat Shalom, The Organization for Women's Economic Empowerment, Women's Parliament and other groups.

In a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the women's groups demanded an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza. "The masculine way of killing and destruction must stop and give way to women's language and action for peace and dialogue between nations," they wrote.

'A wide range of political views'
Claiming to represent "a wide range of political views," the women's groups demanded "an end to the use of instruments of killing and bombs, and to immediately sit around the negotiating table and talk peace, not war."

"We want the cycle of killing and destruction to cease," they added.

Feminist groups and pundits were the first to come out against the Gaza operation from its outset. In an op-ed for Maariv/NRG Sunday, feminist activist Dorit Rabinovich called upon Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to oppose the war.

"In a move that is nothing but pure chauvinism and sexism, made up of slogans about invasion, occupation, penetration and a disregard for the will of the public in the country, this is Livni's time to say 'enough' to the government's rape of society," she wrote.

Rabinovich predicted that soon, hundreds of thousands would take to the streets against the war, and the pundits will also come out against it. As a precedent she cited the successful protest by women's groups against the IDF security zone in Lebanon, which was aided by feminist journalists like Shelly Yechimovich (now a Labor MK). That movement is credited with causing then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak's decision to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.

Complaint to the UNSC
On Monday, a coalition of Israeli women's groups filed a complaint against Israel to the United Nations Security Council. The groups claimed that Israel is not complying with a law passed in 2005 that requires the participation of women in the Israeli government's decision-making forums.

According to Attorney Anat Tahoun Ashkenazi of Itach-Maaki, "the winds of war prove the need for placing women in the government institutions and the centers of decision making."