While the eyes of the world are on Gaza, what's going on in the West Bank? Bloggers report that there is enormous anger at the assault on Gaza, yet ongoing tension between political factions in some areas means that protesting publicly has not been easy.
As you can probably imagine, the sentiment among Palestinians in the last days, is very emotional. People are in mourning, people are angry, people want to respond. … As I came into Hebron yesterday, many youth were throwing rocks, chanting, and burning tires in response to the massacres. Roads were blocked with stones and tire fires raged and youth paraded with Palestinian flags. The Israeli military was responding with live ammo, concussion grenades, and teargas. As I came into the Old City of Hebron, a kind gentlemen showed me an alleyway towards my house, which would avoid all the teargas. … Leaving Hebron today, the scene was very similar. One youth grabbed my arm and pulled me into an alleyway. Just as we rounded the corner, a sound grenade went out, scaring the hell out of me. I thanked him for this gesture, and he proceeded to ask where I was from, I said, “Ameerka.” Instantly I could tell that this wasn't a popular answer at the present moment. He asked me if I had said seen the pictures of babies killed in Gaza. He said that America is responsible for those dead babies. He told me that America needs to be destroyed. He demanded to know if his statements were true or false. “Haada mazbuut,” this is true, I said. He told all his friends around him that I was “Amreeki,” which garnered many grunts of disapproval. Another sound grenade went off nearby and I figured it was my time to leave.
As I boarded the bus to Bethlehem, where I change buses to go to Jerusalem, I got into another conversation with 3 men. One man on the bus looked remarkably like Yasser Arafat, and other men in the bus were giving this man a hard time and trying to get him to do an impersonation. … They then asked me where I was from. When I said America, they again asked about Gaza, if I had seen the pictures and the videos. They then asked what I was doing here. In my limited Arabic, I explained that I work near Yatta, in a village called Tuwani. I struggled to find the words to describe the work…”I live with Palestinians who have many problems with Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers. The foreigners with me, we have video cameras, and we try to help, and try to tell our country about what's happening.” … Then the ‘Yasser Arafat look-alike’ reached across the aisle to shake my hand. “You are welcome here in Palestine,” he said to me, in the first English spoken in the conversation. The other men shook my hand and asked what my name was and where I was going. After I told them my travel plans, they insisted I come with them in their friend's car and they would drop me off in Jerusalem to catch the bus. Upon entering the car, the driver offered me food and tea, and told me I was welcome here.
Marcy Newman, an American activist and academic working in Nablus, who blogs at Body on the Line, describes the feeling in the city:
the mood in nablus is not good. …. a common refrain i heard among my students yesterday was that “palestinian blood is cheap.” there is a feeling that they are all alone. yesterday i posted an important video of sheren tadros reporting on al jazeera highlighting the fact that there is nowhere for palestinians in gaza to run to. but here, too, people feel that there is no one to go to for help. that their calls for ending this bloodbath fall on deaf ears. […] people in nablus are afraid to speak out, too, as there are a number of palestinians who have spoken out publicly in mosques and other public spaces and as a result the palestinian authority has put them in prison. enemies are every where. from within and from outside. one of the student activists at my university was chatting with me last night. she wants to erect a tent in downtown nablus in martyr’s square to have a public memorial for the martyrs of gaza; hamas and fatah leaders in the city couldn’t agree. so no tent. more silence. the same is true in nasra [Nazareth, in Israel] where palestinians were attacked by israeli terrorists for protesting the brutality in gaza.
Nevertheless a demonstration did take place:
you’ve got to hand it to the women. when the shit hits the fan they are always the ones to react. the strong ones. in the midst of a political situation where palestinians are afraid to speak out against the israeli terrorist war against gaza, the women’s union got fed up today and organized and impromptu protest at martyr’s square in downtown nablus. it was a brief demonstration, partially due to the rain i suspect, but important nevertheless. after the first fifteen minutes or so men joined as well. the chants were all about unity: one nation. no division. the chants criticized hamas and fatah alike.
Then a second one:
i went downtown again at 5pm for the second protest for gaza today. this one was a candlelight vigil. i got their early because of what happened to the first protest i went to. none of my friends were there yet. i saw a lot of yellow [Fatah] flags when i arrived, but they were flags for palestinian political prisoners so i did not think anything of it. while i was waiting for my friends to arrive two students from an najah [university] came up to me and while we were talking little by little i started to realize this was not at all a candlelight vigil for gaza in spite of all the people there in kuffiyas looking like they were gathered for a vigil or demonstration. all of a sudden really large speakers began blasting fatah songs and shortly thereafter a huge parade began to march down the street full of children on drums. every one of them waved enormous fatah flags. … i was not in the mood to watch fatah celebrate its 44th anniversary, which to me seemed like dancing on the graves of people in gaza. incidentally, i head heard that celebrations for fatah’s anniversary were ordered to be canceled today because of what is happening in gaza; apparently nabulsis [people from Nablus] didn’t get that memo.
Ned is in Ramallah, and blogs at Oranges and Olives:
Yes, no one can say that Hamas are angels. They are not. But doesn’t it sound absurd that while F-16s and Apaches are bombing Gaza and while tanks are taking position around the strip, the calls are coming out to Hamas to stop the violence? But surrealism, as stark contrast between elements, can only be strengthened by a third element in our case. What adds to this surrealism for me is not to be found in the world reaction, not the Arab reaction, but the reaction of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. A small march goes out in Central Ramallah, and it appeared to be infested with agents of the Intelligence apparatus. It was disgusting to see that Hamas supporters were being arrested in the heart of Ramallah, by Palestinians. What added to the sadness is the sight of a line of riot police that blocked the road to the Muqata’a (the presidential compound). If we are to treat a peaceful demonstration in such a manner that calls for the use of riot police then what should we expect from others? […] Everyone is wrong, no one is doing the right thing, but things have entered into a spiral of wrongs and blames that it is now impossible to say that one thing can stop everything. This is why my thought goes back to the root of the problem, at least its root on our side of the game. The bottom line of my analysis is that we do not have sincere leaders. No one is genuinely interested in the best interest of the Palestinian people, not even the Palestinian leaders themselves. On the one hand, the PA cannot be expected to come out strongly against military action that can potential restore power in the strip to them. Nor are the Hamas leaders expected to leave their throne after the finally got there. Nor are we, as a people, intelligent enough to stand up against this catastrophic leadership and create a new one that represent us. It looks so gloomy.
Elena is an Italian working in Ramallah who blogs at Fazzo Io!, and she has posted a poem written by her friend Raya:
Last night I had my last drop of coffee
My last dream, my last piece of bread
Tomorrow morning I will witness my last dawn
Listen to my daughter's last heart beat
Say I love you for the first, the very last time
Few minutes ago I was invisible no one knew about me
No one heard my screams, felt my fears
No one held my freezing shaking small hand
No one told me it will be ok
Soon it will be ok
No one saw me, no one felt me
I was invisible, no one knew about me!
Few minutes later I'm on TV
Everyone talks about me
Even the CNN mentioned me!!
Yesterday I died!
As an old man buried in his tomb,
As fetus dead in her mother's womb
Yesterday I died 360 times!