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

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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)
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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… Read more »

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… Read more »


“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.