1 Youth Killed as Thousands Demonstrate Throughout Palestine

3 March 2008

In Ramallah, thousands participated in a demonstration called jointly by Fatah and Hamas. In Betlehem, Palestinians gathered near the Church of the Nativity, in Hebron, near a University. Schools were closed throughout the West Bank as thousands marched to apparatuses of the Israeli Occupation: checkpoints, watchtowers, the Annexation Barrier. People marched in Nablus, Qalqilya, Jenin, Betlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah and dozens of smaller towns, protesting the ongoing massacre in Gaza. And make no mistake, it is a massacre. Even Israeli news sources are reporting around 50% of the fatalities are civilians. In reality, no one but the Palestinians on the ground can be sure of who was a fighter and who a civilian; they report that only a few of the 100+ people killed in the last few days were engaged in armed resistance. The demonstrations were not limited to Palestinian areas. Israelis in Tel Aviv have had multiple demonstrations, including a critical mass bike ride in which 6 people were arrested, throughout the weekend against the assault on Gaza.

In Beit Ommar, hundreds of residents flew black flags on their homes and carried them in a march through the center of town as a sign of mourning. In Beit ‘Awa, west of Hebron, residents marched towards the Annexation Fence built on their land. There, 14 year old Mahmoud Musalameh was shot in the heart. He died in a hospital in Hebron. More than 40 people were wounded in the Betlehem and Hebron districts alone during the demonstrations. In the Ramallah district, demonstrators marched towards Qalandiya, the main checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

Journalists and political ‘analysts’ worldwide have insisted that if Palestinians could only act in non-violent ways, give up the right to armed resistance to occupation, they would garner the international sympathy they need and the occupation would end. But when 20,000 Gazans created a human chain throughout towns along the Gaza Strip in protest of the siege, they were by and large belittled for being ‘too small’ in number. And then the latest massacre began.

Most of these same journalists and analysts would describe the demonstrations today as ‘violent’, using as evidence reports of two Israeli soldiers who were “lightly wounded” when rocks were thrown at them. In Beit ‘Awa, rock-throwing was met with murder. In Gaza, children so young they can’t even say “katyusha” are killed because of rockets fired into the desert (which have not stopped or even decreased significantly since the Israeli attack began). Yet the UN can only express “concern”, and world leaders have to make sure that they call on “both sides” to end the violence, neglecting to mention that it is only one side that is being massacred, one side that is occupied. When popular demonstrations are mocked or, more likely, met with excessive force, it becomes increasingly difficult for Palestinians to remain convinced that unarmed protest is the path to freedom and self-determination.