In Bethlehem, community rallies to support protests, each helping however they can

Israel/Palestine
on 25 Comments

Whether the current upheaval in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory will continue to escalate, or simmer down in the coming days and weeks is the question currently plaguing every Palestinian and Israeli alike.

A week into the escalation there seems to be no sign of things cooling off.

In the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, protests have been ongoing daily for more than a week, and the vast majority of residents who spoke to Mondoweiss do not see the situation calming anytime soon. In fact, most have called the current upheaval the start of the third intifada.

Whether a long-term uprising is around the corner is still unknown, but small signs of change are visible.

Clashes in Bethlehem along Jerusalem-Hebron street between two politically charged refugee camps, Aida and Beit Jebreen, are fairly common. The road leads to a large door in the Israeli separation wall, making it a prime spot for young men to challenge occupational forces in the Area A city.

This week it seems the entire community has stepped forward to help.

Amal Mirazir came out to the clashes to offer bags of sandwiches to the medics and protesters. (By Abed al Qaisi)

Amal Mirazir came out to the clashes to offer bags of sandwiches to the medics and protesters. (By Abed al Qaisi)

Amal Mirazir, an older woman from Beit Jebreen refugee camp stands at the back of the protest, watching young men hand out modest sandwiches she made at her home.

“It is not much, but I don’t have much, this is what I can do to help,” Mirazir says. “The intifada has started and these boys are the front of the fight for Al Aqsa and for Palestine, we all must help them.”

The young men — wearing gas masks — first hand out sandwiches to medics standing by, before moving to young men in the crowd.

A young man passes out sandwiches made by Amal Mirazir, an older woman from a nearby camp. (By Abed al Qaisi)

A young man passes out sandwiches made by Amal Mirazir, an older woman from a nearby camp. (By Abed al Qaisi)

During the last few days women, who were previously unseen at the these protests, have joined ranks.

Amira Khaled, who asked to have her name changed, is one of at least a dozen women who showed up at Friday’s protest. With a checkered Kuffiyah wrapped around her face like those of the young men around her, Khaled explains that more women are showing up to clashes across the occupied West Bank.

“Before our brothers and cousins would never allow us to come out to the clashes because they are too dangerous, but now they are inviting us, offering to take us with them,” Khaled says. “Our parents and families understand that things are different now. This is an intifada and Palestine needs all its youth to fight, not just the men.”

While most of the young women, who are not accustomed to be being in the heat of the clashes, stay farther back from the frontline of confrontation with Israeli forces, a handful do venture forward.

When one of the girls goes to launch a glass marble from her slingshot, a young man from the group comes to correct the way she is holding the tool, using his own to show her how to hold the handmade wooden handle and pull back the leather launch.

Moments later an Israeli jeep exits the door in the separation wall and everyone runs before the vehicle’s load of 30 to 50 tear gas canisters are shot off at demonstrators.

During the last few days women, who were previously unseen at the these protests, have joined ranks. (By Abed al Qaisi)

During the last few days women, who were previously unseen at these protests, have joined ranks. (By Abed al Qaisi)

At least 1,300 Palestinians have been injured in the occupied Palestinian territories in one week, according the the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

On Friday evening the society reported that 410 Palestinians were injured in one day, 92 of which were hit with live bullets.

Ten Palestinians have been shot dead during the past 24 hours.

Lara Ramadan, a medic who has volunteered with the Palestine Medic Relief Society for six years now, told Mondoweiss that medic volunteers have come from surrounding village miles away to offer their help.

“Before we would take anyone who wanted to volunteer, but things are more serious now, we need people who have years of experience,” Ramadan said. “We are ready for anything, all of us know what we are doing.”

Ramadan and a handful of other medics have set up a makeshift treatment center in the home of a local Hamas supporter Beit Jebreen refugee camp.

The man who owns the house sits across from Ramadan smiling, “We are happy to help in anyway we can, offering our home to help those hurt seemed like a useful thing to do,” he said.

A boy on rollerblades rolls a flaming tire toward the frontline of clashes on Friday Oct. 9 in Bethlehem. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

A boy on rollerblades rolls a flaming tire toward the frontline of clashes on Friday Oct. 9 in Bethlehem. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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25 Responses

  1. Citizen
    October 10, 2015, 5:29 pm

    These Palestinians are very brave–think about it, they are using sling shots–the biblical tool that brought down Goliath, the Giant. The metaphor is so huge, the irony so obvious–hard to believe not one voice in the main stream media has not used it–such is the power of the 6 mega-corporations responsible for 90% of all media content any American ever has access to. What a blockbuster Hollywood movie this stuff would make–but no takers. Of course, Gibson could do it justice–not likely; he even offered to do a movie about the heroic Macabees to make amends & no takers.

    The Bible tells us that Goliath was a Philistine (which is the same as Palestinian).
    Of course Zionists don’t do irony.

    • Kathleen
      October 11, 2015, 11:20 am

      Citizen was thinking the very same things as I read. Palestinians use sling shots with rocks, glass marbles in them to go up against the oppressor Israel. This sure appears to be another effort to “mow the grass” by Israel. What a fucked up way to reference deciding to go in and kill those fighting for their internationally recognized land, homes, lives.

      Going to check if any of the so called liberal outlets like MSNBC have said squat about 10 Palestinians being shot dead by Israel or the 1300 Palestinians who have been injured trying to access their own lands?

      Clearly Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell etc are part of the problem protecting Israel no matter what they do.

      • neez
        October 14, 2015, 3:25 pm

        Would like to thank you for your brave reply and the truthful knowledge about the Palestinian tragedy.God bless you

  2. Mayhem
    October 11, 2015, 1:08 am

    What sort of protest is this? What is driving the escalation of violence? Is there no concern over the revolting posts on various Palestinian and Arab social media fora celebrating the killing of Israelis and urging others to carry out additional murders? In one particularly disturbing case, Palestinians have been distributing pictures of the dead bodies of Israelis and the terror scenes on Twitter and Facebook. Apparently the most sought after photo is that of the bullet-ridden bodies of Na’ama and Rabbi Eitam Henkin.
    Instead of condemning the spate of unconscionable, barbaric attacks, and returning to the negotiating table, as proposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the U.N last week, President Abbas is stoking the flames of hatred with his anti-Jewish narrative and his incendiary and false claims about the Temple Mount.

    • Kris
      October 11, 2015, 11:21 am

      Shorter Mhm: “Palestinians are the only people ever to have no right of resistance, or rights of any kind at all. They should accept their victimization gracefully.”

      • Mayhem
        October 11, 2015, 6:47 pm

        @Kris, to be behaving in a way that demonstrates a lack of human dignity and respect, to be driven by irrational hatred; a victim is not absolved from conducting himself properly. By resorting to criminal, violent actions if they can’t get what they want by negotiations their cause is negated.

      • Kris
        October 11, 2015, 8:46 pm

        Mhm in clearer words: “If the victim can’t behave nicely to his oppressor, he deserves unending torment. Just as the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto deserved contempt for striking out at the Nazi forces trying to maintain law and order.

        “In fact, Jews are known for their ability to forgive and love their tormentors. Though, oddly enough, they still hunt down and imprison old men who had any tenuous connection to the Holocaust, even today.”

      • Kris
        October 11, 2015, 9:16 pm

        Resistance really isn’t nice .

      • Mayhem
        October 12, 2015, 8:07 am

        @Kris, you quote that ‘Jews’ still hunt down and imprison old men who had any tenuous connection to the Holocaust.
        Where does this quote come from? It sounds like the sort of contemptuous thing a Holocaust denier like David Irving might utter. As though Jews are the only ones who were concerned about what the Nazis did in the Holocaust and have pursued them to pay for their heinous crimes.
        Furthermore to draw an equivalence between the plight of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and the situation of the Palestinians is the ultimate in absurdity. The Jews in Europe were being massacred and had no choice but to fight for their lives. Any Jew anywhere was the target for mass genocide.
        The Palestinians are in their dismal situation by their own making and unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel and normalize relations with the Jews who live there. Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel are not hounded and in fact would generally prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the Middle East.

      • talknic
        October 12, 2015, 9:00 am

        @ Mayhem “By resorting to criminal, violent actions if they can’t get what they want by negotiations their cause is negated”

        UNSC resolutions tell us Israel fits that bill like a glove

      • talknic
        October 12, 2015, 9:14 am

        @ Mayhem
        “As though Jews are the only ones who were concerned about what the Nazis did in the Holocaust and have pursued them to pay for their heinous crimes.”

        If YOU say so … Kris didn’t

        “The Palestinians are in their dismal situation by their own making “

        There were non-Jewish Palestinians in the Zionist Federation 1897 when they decided to colonize Palestine and the Palestinians begged them to colonize? The Palestinians begged the UN to partition? Begged Israel to invade what remained of Palestine after we were given, gratis, more than half of Palestine for our Jewish state? Begged to be occupied? Begged to be illegally settled?

        “Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel are not hounded and in fact would generally prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the Middle East”

        Of course they’d rather be living in their homeland than in any other country in the Middle East, it’s NORMAL except to a Zionist moron trying desperately to make a point!

      • eljay
        October 12, 2015, 9:17 am

        || Mayhem: … The Palestinians are in their dismal situation by their own making and unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel and normalize relations with the Jews who live there. … ||

        The Palestinians are in their dismal situation because of Jewish terrorism, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes and lands, and a decades-long campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction, torture and murder by an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist, belligerent, intransigent and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” that with impunity (thanks to “undying support” from the U.S.A.):
        – refuses to halt its decades-long (and on-going) occupation and colonization of land outside of its (Partition) borders;
        – refuses to honour its obligations under international law (including RoR of refugees);
        – refuses to accept any responsibility or accountability for its past and on-going (war) crimes; and
        – refuses to enter into sincere negotiations for a just and mutually-beneficial peace.

        || … Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel are not hounded and in fact would generally prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the Middle East. ||

        The fact that a woman chooses to live with an abusive spouse rather than be chained in the rapist’s basement doesn’t magically transform the wife-beater into Prince Charming.

        (Zio-supremacists love to praise Israel as a “Western-style democracy”, a “moral beacon” and a “light unto the nations”…and then defend it by comparing it to some of the worst countries in the world.)

      • Kris
        October 12, 2015, 11:09 am

        @Mhm: “Furthermore to draw an equivalence between the plight of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and the situation of the Palestinians is the ultimate in absurdity. The Jews in Europe were being massacred and had no choice but to fight for their lives. Any Jew anywhere was the target for mass genocide.”

        If you would actually read the articles on mondoweiss, you would be able to grasp the equivalence between the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and the plight of the Palestinians. The difference is that the Holocaust of the Jews was over in a few years, while the Holocaust of the Palestinians has continued over many decades with no end in sight.

        In addition to being targets of genocide, both the WWII Jews, and the Palestinians since then, have been at the mercy of merciless, racist groups considering themselves to be ubermenschen who thought of their victims, even the babies and children, as cancerous tumors or vermin.

        The equivalence holds.

    • Kathleen
      October 11, 2015, 11:21 am

      Mayhem can you provide some links to back up what you have claimed?

      • Mayhem
        October 12, 2015, 8:25 am

        @Kathleen, what’s the point of me provided a link to back up my claim if it is censored by moderators unwilling to publish the damning truth?

      • talknic
        October 12, 2015, 8:56 am

        @ Mayhem

        That’s a ‘No, I can’t’ Ziolite

      • Mooser
        October 12, 2015, 10:52 am

        ” what’s the point of me provided a link to back up my claim if it is censored by moderators unwilling to publish the damning truth?”

        Oh, don’t worry, “Mayhem”! All your comments “publish the damning truth” very well. One or two less won’t make any difference. You just keep sending them in, and let the Moderators pick the best to publish. You’re doin’ great, pal!

      • Kathleen
        October 12, 2015, 12:30 pm

        Mayhem…Clearly you mean no you cannot provide links to back up your claims. Clearly.

    • ziusudra
      October 12, 2015, 1:27 am

      Greetings Meyhem,
      … Returning to the negociating table……

      The Oslo accord set the tenure & direction 22 yrs ago!!!
      ( The 30 yrs’ war peace process took 4 yrs to resolve!)
      The Pals. sat 22 yrs with Israeli Governments!

      The Pals. know just when they learn the Israeli
      rules, the Israelis change them!
      What are you talking about?
      Du glaubst deiner eigene Müll selber nicht!
      ( You don’t even believe your own moufing off!)
      You want that in Jiddish too?
      ziusudra
      PS …..Temple Mount….
      The Temple Mount lay barren from 70AD to
      691AD!
      The Dome was built in 691AD.
      The Al Aqsa Mosque was built in 696AD!
      Why didn’t Jews build a 3rd temple in 621 yrs.?
      Because they were no longer there!
      We now have 2015AD. Why doesn’t World Jewry
      build a Temple next to Christian Churchs?
      Judaism needs a Temple not a Location that was
      ne’er proven to even have been built upon, to boot,
      twice!
      ziusudra

    • diasp0ra
      October 12, 2015, 9:51 am

      @Mayhem

      “The Palestinians are in their dismal situation by their own making and unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel and normalize relations with the Jews who live there.”

      Oh, isn’t it wonderful when context and history are removed from the situation? Reading this post here one would get the impression that Israel just happened to be there, and that the Zionist tsunami that arrived from Europe were just natives that the Palestinians didn’t ever like. Not like there was ethnic cleansing and massacres, oh no, that would tarnish the Zionist narrative.

      “Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel are not hounded and in fact would generally prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the Middle East.”

      That is literally an Apartheid SA tactic, they said literally the same exact thing about the Black Africans living there. Btw, why wouldn’t they prefer to live there? It’s their land, why would they move anywhere else? Especially when it spites you and your demographically obsessed government so much?

      • Misterioso
        October 12, 2015, 3:08 pm

        diaspOra

        Well and truly stated!!!

    • Misterioso
      October 12, 2015, 3:03 pm

      Mayhem

      You assert that “The Palestinians are in their dismal situation by their own making and unwillingness to accept the existence of Israel and normalize relations with the Jews who live there.”

      Utter nonsense!!

      To wit:

      In 1988, the Palestine National Council (PNC) met in Algiers and ratified UN Resolution 181, the 1947 Partition Plan, in its Palestinian Declaration of Independence. The declaration stated “Despite the historical injustice inflicted on the Palestinian Arab people resulting in their dispersion and depriving them of their right to self-determination, following upon U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947), which partitioned Palestine into two states, one Arab, one Jewish, yet it is this Resolution that still provides those conditions of international legitimacy that ensure the right of the Palestinian Arab people to sovereignty…. The State of Palestine herewith declares that it believes in the settlement of regional and international disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with the U.N. Charter and resolutions.”

      Hoping to achieve a peace agreement based on a two state formula, the Palestinian leadership signed the Oslo accords in 1993, thereby agreeing as part of a final settlement, to concur with the terms of UNSC Resolution 242 and recognize Israel as a sovereign state within the area it controlled on 4 June 1967. By so doing, the Palestinians abandoned the 1947 Partition Plan (which had recommended they receive just 42% of their homeland) and agreed to accept a state comprised of a mere 22% of their homeland with East Jerusalem as its capital. Soon thereafter, the Palestinian leadership indicated it was willing to share East Jerusalem as a capital with Israel. Despite all the optimism that accompanied the signing of the Oslo accords, thanks to Israel’s intransigence, they achieved nothing of consequence for Palestinians.

      The PLO also agreed to the US supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state, exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law and its previous commitments. Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. It “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…”

      PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat had already declared he favoured a compromise on the Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return in a New York Times op-ed:

      “In addition, we seek a fair and just solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees who for 54 years have not been permitted to return to their homes. We understand Israel’s demographic concerns and understand that the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a right guaranteed under international law and United Nations Resolution 194, must be implemented in a way that takes into account such concerns.” (New York Times, February 3, 2002)

      Regrettably, then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon summarily dismissed the Arab League’s peace overture, as did Israel’s government when it was again put on the table in 2008.

      For the record, other peace initiatives that Israeli governments have rebuffed include: U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers’ The Rogers Plan (1969); The Scranton Mission on behalf of President Nixon (1970); Egyptian President Sadat’s land for peace and mutual recognition proposal (1971); U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s call for a Geneva international conference (1977); Saudi Arabian King Fahd’s peace offer (1981); U.S. President, Ronald Reagan’s Reagan Plan (1982); U.S. Secretary of State, George Shultz’s Schultz Plan (1988); U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker’s Baker Plan (1989); and the previously noted 1993 Oslo accords signed by Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that unravelled following the latter’s assassination and subsequent return to power of the Likud party from 1996-1999 under Benjamin Netanyahu; continuation of the Taba II negotiations (2001); the unofficial Geneva Peace Initiative of November/December 2003; and the 2014 Kerry Initiative.

      As for the much touted 2000 Camp David Summit, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat’s throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.” (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

      Unfortunately, Israel’s response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states has been an escalation in collective punishments, confiscation of Palestinian land and the illegal construction of Jewish settlements in belligerently/illegally/brutally occupied Palestinian and other Arab lands.

      It is blatantly obvious that Israel has no intention of achieving a peace agreement based on the creation of a sovereign, contiguous Palestinian state. The whole world, including a rapidly increasing number of all important Americans, knows this and is growing increasingly disgusted with and enraged at rogue/pariah Israel. The handwriting is on the wall, but you and your ilk refuse to read it.

  3. Ossinev
    October 12, 2015, 11:52 am

    @Mayhem
    “Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel are not hounded and in fact would generally prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the Middle East” Of course they “generally” would prefer to live in “Israel” dickhead. They are the NATIVES.It is THEIR HOMELAND.

    • Misterioso
      October 12, 2015, 3:09 pm

      BINGO!!

    • K Renner
      October 12, 2015, 11:53 pm

      It’s especially funny when you consider that Mayhem and those of his ideological ilk cancel out the fact that Palestinians inside Israel proper are treated as second or third class citizens and as “terror threats” based off of their refusal to pretend that Palestinians and Palestinian nationalism “aren’t real” and their ‘audacity’ to not liking being treated like garbage in comparison to Jewish citizens.

      And when the Palestinians in Israel take to the street to protest, people like Mayhem immediately vilify and demonize them in the most disgusting ways.

      I’m not even going to touch what someone like that says about Palestinians living in what remains of Palestine. Too ridiculous to deal with right now.

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