Instead of the weekly Friday protests through out the West Bank, the popular committees and youth groups combined forces for the last Friday of Ramadan. Today’s demonstrations in Bethlehem and Qalandia carried the banner of the Olive Revolution – a new national and popular movement against the Israeli occupation.
By LBJ, Palestine Monitor
QALANDIYA—Yesterday, the last Friday of Ramadan, approximately100 activists gathered at Qalandiya checkpoint to challenge Israel’s restriction of access for Palestinians to Al Quds or Jerusalem. Al Quds is home to Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for Islam. Beginning with prayers in front of scores of Israeli soldiers and border police standing at the mouth to the checkpoint, participants sang chants for freedom and dignity for less than an hour before being dispersed with tear gas. During the course of the day, several people were injured and two men from Bil’in were arrested.
As part of the campaign “Knocking on doors of Jerusalem,” the Qalandiya and the Bethlehem checkpoints were the stage for today’s demonstrations. The campaign established by the popular committees and the nonviolent resistance group movement, Olive Revolution, is a direct confrontation to the Israeli checkpoints and the separation barrier, which have cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem.
“It was very satisfying that we managed to come up front and were not forced back right away,” says Maath Musleh, a 25-year old activist from Olive Revolution, who has been part of the burgeoning movement since the March 15 hunger strike where the initiatives from the movement was rooted. Today was the first official event of the Olive Revolution. International activists, Israeli supporters and local activists from Nabi Saleh, Deir Qaddis and Budrus came together, combining their forces to carry out the message of freedom, justice and peace for all.
The birth of a new initiative
Within the past week advertisements on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have attracted attention from international media. Musleh appreciates the positive and widespread publicity, hoping for a maximum turnout at the demonstrations.
Demonstrations were originally planned to take place at four doors of Jerusalem, but the two doors at The Western section of the Separation Wall in Biddu and the Eastern door in Shufat, were canceled.
“There is a long way to go, but by the end of the day, we are growing slowly,” Musleh says.
Olive Revolution was established by Ayred Morrar, the leader of the popular and successful resistance movement in Budrus. Budrus was the first village in the West Bank to effectively push back the Wall to the “green line,” through nonviolent resistance. Budrus was the inspiration behind sustained weekly protests in Bil’in, Nil’in and Nabih Saleh.
Olive Revolt in Palestine
Palestinian activists, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters demonstrated today at military checkpoints under the slogan “knocking on Jerusalem’s gates’ in the campaign called ‘Olive Revolution’. This was an attempt to march to Jerusalem to attend the last Friday of Ramadan’s prayer. The peaceful march at Qalandia was blocked by Israeli army heavily armed and we couldn’t walk through. After a while we were attacked. Tear gas and sound bombs were shot at demonstrators, many injuries and some arrests.
We were not so many as I expected we will be, maybe few hundreds. I could not stop asking myself: where are the people? At some point, when we were attacked by the Israeli army and then came back to the military checkpoint, it seemed like there are more Israeli and International activists than Palestinian demonstrators.
This support is much appreciated but it raises the question about us, Palestinians. Are we waiting for others to liberate us? As much as International pressure against Israel, including diplomacy and BDS and others are important, we have to know, that no one will liberate us but ourselves. The international pressure will get leverage when there is something happening on the ground. Exactly like what happened with the Arab revolutions. The world remained silence until they realized that the power of people on the ground can’t be ignored.
Palestinians have done so much to achieve their freedom, including two Intifadas. Our existence as Palestinians by itself is a form of resistance, in light of Israeli policy of separation, segregation, ethnic cleansing and transfer. Our resistance takes various shapes, peaceful weekly demonstrations in many villages, culture events, international action and more. I never lose hope when I see how my people survive. Palestinians have resisted 63 years of Israeli dispossession, oppression and occupation, and will continue. Israel has failed.
I believe in our people and their power to stand up for their rights. Actions on the ground should continue, we have to keep knocking not only on the doors of Jerusalem, but on the doors of every Palestinian.
And ‘Olive revolt’ would be a great title for our third popular peaceful uprising, hopefully soon.
For more information on the Olive Revolution, click here