In the last Friday of Ramadan, an Independent Palestinian group named “Olive Revolution” called for a protest at the gates of Jerusalem; the wall gates at Bidu, Sho’afat, Bethlehem and Qalandia were the targets. Unfortunately, all of the protest were canceled last minute, except for a small gathering at Qalandia.
The protest was supposed to start at 10 AM, as announced on the facebook event. But, off course Arabs are always late, even when they revolt. The people who were standing by the checkpoint were either waiting to be allowed to pass qalandia checkpoint or were already denied, but were still waiting for a wonder to get in after all. Most of the people in the lines at qalandia had no clue about the protest that was announced earlier and many of the denied men left to nearby mosques to pray.
Meanwhile at the other side of the checkpoint, a crowd of women was waiting to enter; many of these women were already denied and out of frustration they started chanting against the Israeli occupation, which banned them from entering Jerusalem. They chanted for a while, even before the protest organizers had arrived. Finally the Friday prayer was announced and people started gathering for prayer at the gate of the checkpoint. It was announced that the protest would start directly after the Friday prayers with the ultimate aim to enter Jerusalem. The soldiers at the checkpoint were already geared up; they had started the gearing as soon as the women had started to chant.
The call for prayers was announced, women and men, used pieces of cartoon to sit on while listening to the Imam’s lecture. Meanwhile the internationals and Israeli activists stood in the back watching. The Imam spoke about AlQuds, and the right of every Muslims to reach and pray at its holy places. -I couldn’t keep myself from pointing the Irony of this speech to the photographer standing next to me, though-
As soon as the prayer ended the protesters walked 2 meters towards the barrier that separated them from the Israeli soldiers. The protesters started chanting; they chanted loud against occupation, racism, settlements, and demanded their rights to enter Jerusalem. In the middle of this mess -I was informed about this later- 1 young men from Bilin actually tried to reach Jerusalem and walked over a lower part of the wall through the checkpoint, he was arrested and released later that day.
20 minutes after the protest started, the organizers announced the end of it; calling the participants to leave the place of the protest. However, many of the young participants refused, stayed, and continued chanting. While the protest was continued, some soldiers positioned in the tower which overlooked the protest were spitting at the protesters who stood below it. The protesters below the tower were provoked and soon one of them threw a stone at the tower; the soldiers got their excuse.
As soon as the soldier saw the stone flying, they start throwing teargas and concussion grenades; the protest ended at that point, some of the youth threw stones, but the whole confrontation ended within a few minutes.
In the end, I realized how weak the Palestinian independent movement is, and how long it’s going to take before it will become capable of moving the people. In other words, I think the Palestinians with their long history of revolution, find themselves now in a similar place as the Egyptians found themselves in 2004.
Wish us luck, we need it in this long run towards revolution and decolonization!