Sunday 27 July 2014

Night of Power, Day of Rage

  As the fragile ceasefire in place on Saturday was in effect, the citizens of Gaza temporarily opened banks, searched for survivors and counted the dead. That day followed an unprecedented turn out of Palestinians in the West Bank in support for Gaza on Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power) and the ‘Day of Rage’. On Thursday night, the date during Ramadan that marks when the Prophet Muhammad revealed the first verses of the Quran, tens of thousands of people around the West Bank were on the streets venting their frustration and anger at the deaths of their brothers and sisters in Gaza.

  The most remarkable show of this feeling was seen in Ramallah where the focus was on Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. The swathes of people amassing at the checkpoint inevitably turned violent with Israeli forces and the Al-Aqsa Brigade exchanged live fire and two Palestinians were killed. Friday was declared a ‘Day of Rage’ by the Palestinians with protests and more clashes occurring all over the West Bank.

The '#48k' March heading to Qalandia Chekpoint

  Myself and the other volunteer here were staying in east Jerusalem and as the last Friday of Ramadan broke, we heard reports that Al-Aqsa Mosque was closed to all except over 50’s. The whole of east Jerusalem had a repulsive smell as the police had used and dispersing measure colloquially termed ‘skunk water’. This putrid chemical is thrown over buildings and roads to dissuade Palestinians amassing together. Police and army were all around the old city, setting up roadblocks and deploying water cannons effectively separating east Jerusalem from the rest. We managed to get back to Abu Dis in the evening and were met with the smell of tear gas that had been used extensively by the army.

Police block roads from east Jerusalem to the Old City

One of dozens of spent rubber bullet casings littering the streets of Abu Dis

  As the bombings and ground operations in Gaza have resumed, the frustration and anger of Palestinians in the West Bank endure. How this manifests itself in the days to come remains to be seen. What is certain is that the pictures and stories seen and heard about the situation in Gaza shows the suffering Gazans are enduring and how it cannot continue at the behest of a government claiming it as self-defence.

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