Amid hundreds acres of fields covered with grass and the rusty metal wires of old burnt tires, young protesters experienced in skirmishes with Israeli soldiers recommend to their newly experienced friends the best ways to avoid the tear gas and stun grenades fired from the Nahal Oz military post east of Gaza City.
About 100-300 meters from the border fence east of the Shajaiya neighborhood, which was exposed to massive destruction during the 2014 war, some 1,000 young men protested the U.S. president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by burning tires and throwing stones at the soldiers hidden behind reinforced barracks.
As three friends — Mohammed Sukkar (23), Muammar Hellis (20) and Yasseen Abu al-Atta (24) — assembled in the field in preparation to throw stones, the army rained down a batch of around 20 tear gas bombs to force hundreds of demonstrators to run away. But they soon returned to throw the flaring bombs towards the barbed border again.
“Listen carefully, you have to run against the wind once you see white smoke and pay careful attention to your testicles of being hit by a bullet, otherwise you will lose everything as we lost Jerusalem,” Yassin was warning Mohammed and Muammar, who had not previously had similar skirmishes with the army.
In this open area, tens of black smoke columns crossed with whites can be seen from burning tires and gas bombs, while ambulances cannot stop picking up suffocation or gunshot injuries. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported three killed and approximately 185 were injured in the clashes on five points along the eastern border of the Gaza Strip. 587 injured in the West Bank and Jerusalem until Friday night.
“There is something going on in my heart once this holy city comes under Israeli aggression, and it drives me to avenge. I know that I will not be able to hit that soldier, but he will get nervous all the time as long as we are here,” Mohammed told Mondoweiss.
“I challenge anyone in the world to find any Palestinian house without a framed photo of Jerusalem or Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Mohammed added. “I felt very angry when they said that Trump would deliver a speech at 20:00 on Wednesday and announced his declaration. It was the most depressed night I had, ever.”
A donkey cart loaded with old tires was passing by the place. While angry protesters were rushing to put more tires on those already burning. Three anxious, half-veiled mothers ran up to force their children to return home.
The angry youths on the 30th anniversary of the 1987 uprising were silent for a moment. They screamed again when each new injury goes down, and they called to the ambulance drivers to go to the victim. While stones keep flying, while others were giving middle fingers to the soldiers.
On top one of the clay hills near the confrontations, Ahmed Matar, 23, was distributing Palestinian flags, and pictures of President Trump on an A4 papers, to set the photos on fire. “Oh Trump, Jerusalem is not a chess piece distributed as you like, it will be a capital only for the Palestinians,” he said.
Ahmad added that even the Americans themselves do not like this “wrestler.”
“And we will not recognize him as president either. He provokes our anger, and our fire will not be extinguished,” Ahmed, who studies nursing, and has never visited Jerusalem, told Mondoweiss.
“I hope to visit, even for minutes. They say it has a smell unlike other than all the cities of the world.”
Back in the center of Gaza City, the situation was similar to the days of the 1987 uprising. The atmosphere of the city was filled with black smoke due to the burning tires on the main intersections, while pickup trucks overloaded with protesters and blaring their horns were rushing to join the angry marches.
In Palestine Square, in the middle of the old city, 21-year-old Musbah al-Daya was looking at the flyer for the central march. It carried a background image of Jerusalem. He said: “No power in the world can take our right in our city, Jerusalem, and today we are angry and alone, and there is no Arab state that stands by our side.”
He went on, “It seems that the United States does not want stability for this world since Trump took office, and today it seems that I will not visit Jerusalem forever as long as it falls under Israeli sovereignty.”
Between yesterday and today, many events have been experienced by the Palestinians. Thousands of martyrs have fallen, or been wounded and detained in the Israeli prisons. The first intifada had its own specificity: Israel suppressed the people by closing schools, besieging neighborhoods, and arresting people. After Trump’s speech, the specter of the intifada returns, and those who participated in the first uprisings are returning to the way of the struggle.