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Palestine: Ongoing Protests for Unity

March 15th marked the beginning of protests for unity between Palestinians and an elimination of the political divisions in Palestinian society; however, on that day, protesters were violently dispersed both in Ramallah and in Gaza.

In the following days, participants reflected on the meaning of the March 15th protests. Sameeha Elwan blogged:

I am not going to speak of all the violations that Hamas forces have committed against the young hopeful Palestinians whose sole noble aim was to end the fragmentation of their country. The PA forces and thugs at the West Bank were by no means any better. The protesters in the West Bank too had their share of beating, arrest, and humiliation.

I will only speak of the youth determination that I saw that day and the next days. I will speak of the eagerness I sensed in people to end the current state of division. I will speak of hope arousing from such youth. I will speak of this and believe in the Palestinian will in the days to come.

Hope in Gaza wrote:

I believe that the events and the assaults that are taking place here in Gaza, and after the unsuccessful rally that was supposed to unite rather than create more division, urgently needs a rally to restore sanity.

The sanity that says we are all Palestinians. We are not green, we are not yellow, and we are not red. We are not a color. We are a belief that together we can make a change, alone we make no progress and no nothing, and the sanity that division will bring nothing but more division and more separation, and that we must end this division hole that keeps increasing… for that and more i believe that, We MUST create our own well organized non-biased Palestinian rally to restore this sanity.

From Ramallah, Life on Bir Zeit Campus bloggers Heba and Linah wrote:

If unity happens, it will be more like some sort of a smokescreen, because unity is definitely not in the best interests of Hamas and Fateh. We can use that as pretext for enhancing our own voices, taking charge from there, and cleaning up the mammoth pile of manure they've dumped us in. There are three demands the youth groups have announced; unity, formation of a new PNC, and the release of all political prisoners. That list needs to be much longer. We are here for the long run, and not just to celebrate imminently “Unity Day” by forming rings and doing dabke.

Regarding long-term solutions to protesters’ demands, Rana Baker wrote:

[T]here is actually, at least in my point of view, a two-way definition to the popular demand to “end the Palestinian internal division.” One is the ostensible call for a national reconciliation or “unity” as banners say; a call that requires the opponent parties of Fatah and Hamas to give up hatred, forget each other’s political scandals and reunite. A solution that appears to be desired by many people but would absolutely fail to bring about 6 million Palestinian refugees back to their confiscated lands in 1948. The other way of definition is as simple as demanding both ruling parties, Hamas and Fatah, in Gaza and the West Bank respectively to step down; a definition that I highly endorse, where fair elections can be held and the Oslo Accords can be relinquished forever.

These protests continued into March 20th, 2011. This morning, Laila Abu-Dahi posted:

situation is calm till now at Al-Azhar Uni #GAZA #MAR15

Tweep Majd posted regular updates regarding protests in Gaza. At midday, Majd tweeted:

#mar15 numbers are increasing in al azhar #gaza with more than 1500 protesters with heavy security presence @AmoonaE @AymanM @nazek88

Soon he added:

#mar15 hamas security closed university door to prevent protesters coming in or out. #gaza @AmoonaE @AymanM @MaanNewsAgency @AP @Reuters

Eventually, the protests migrated from the university to the Shefa hospital and judicial compound. Majd tweeted:

#Mar15 #Gaza I guess I was wrong about #Hamas change of approach. Demos at the judicial compound and Shefa hospital violently disrupted.

Tweets indicate that protests will continue into March 21st. Majd urged:

#Mar15 confirmed “tomorrow big gathering at 10am in front of the #ICRC (red cross) in #Gaza” spread the word plz RT @Palestine15Mar

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