Activism

Haifa demo for Eyad al-Halaq: Palestinian and Black Lives Matter!

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The cold-blooded murder of Eyad al-Halaq by Israeli policemen in occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Saturday, May 30, came as a shock for many Palestinians, even though they are used of hearing of the shooting of innocent Palestinians for any, or no, reason. Eyad, 32, was autistic and was on his way to a special school near Al-Aqsa mosque, where he was training to work as a cook. His last moments were not photographed, but an instructor from his school, Warda Abu Hadid, was near him when he tried to hide from the policemen in a small room used by the garbage collectors. 

She was on her way to work when she heard shooting and took cover in the room. Soon Eyad entered the room looking for shelter also. He was already wounded and stretched on the floor bleeding from his leg. When three policemen followed Eyad in, she told them that he was autistic and could not do any harm. They shot him from short range in his chest anyway.

Eyad’s loving parents, who dedicated much of their lives caring for their beautiful boy, later told of a youth that had difficulties performing basic tasks and was not even conscious to the meaning of occupation. But the occupation killed him anyway – giving new meaning to the notion of innocence.

A demonstration led by groups working with disabled Palestinians

March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Rabeea Eid)

There were several demonstrations around the country in protest of the murder of Eyad. But the demonstration in Haifa on June 2 was special, as it was not organized by political parties or activists but by civil society organizations that care for Palestinians with disabilities. Most of these organizations were established by caring relatives, and the way that Eyad was attacked exposed for them in the most painful way the double vulnerability of being both Palestinian and disabled at the same time.

A list with names of Palestinian martyrs. March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
A list with names of Palestinian martyrs. March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)

The activists for the disabled turned to “Herak Haifa” to help organize their protest and an event on Facebook called for a demonstration on Tuesday, June 2, in “Prisoner’s Square” in the German Colony, Haifa’s tourist center.

Hundreds of people gathered in the square, some with Palestinian flags. Between the participants there were many disabled people, some in wheelchairs. The placards with slogans were of all sizes, prints, and styles, clearly prepared by the participants, with no central organizing body. Many slogans were related to “Black Lives Matter”, in clear solidarity with the struggle against racism in the United States.

March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)

I brought a few posters with me, calling for the arrest of killer cops and commemorating the martyrs. I put them on a fence and they were soon taken by participants. Soon I noticed someone returning a placard to where the small pile was. I went to see what this unwanted placard was. It was handwritten in Arabic: “I’m a disabled Palestinian.” At first I thought the writer wanted to be one of the protesting crowd, like everybody else. But then I thought that in the spirit of solidarity that I could carry this placard instead – and I continued carrying it all along the demonstration.

Marching through downtown Haifa

March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Rabeea Eid)
March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Rabeea Eid)

People continued to gather and soon they poured into the main street and closed it. Nothing was planned in advance, but we just felt that the protest should be heard and seen loud and clear. We were already about 500 people and we started to march toward downtown Haifa, the city’s commercial center. It was a very lively march with people chanting slogans all along the way. At each junction the crowd stopped, closing the traffic, while some of the activists were discussing between themselves what is the next move.

At one turn the crowd entered a side street, that is never used for demonstrations, just to appear in a surprise in “Atzmaut St.”, the main commercial street of downtown Haifa and the route that connects the city’s east and west. The street was closed both ways, just in front of the central train station, as some of the demonstrators sat in the middle. 

By that time the police, which did not seem ready for the demonstration, already had brought in a few mounted policemen and some anti-riot gear, but it was still a small force, that tried to throw a line blocking the main road in front of the demonstrators. Some people wanted to retreat, but as the crowd started to move again it just walked peacefully through the police line and marched in the main street back to the German Colony.

When we came back to prisoner’s square it was already more than 2 hours since the demonstration begun, but people were still chanting and singing liberation songs, full of energies and hope. Before dispersing they immediately declared another demonstration for the next week, this time organized by the Palestinian feminist activists.

March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
March for Eyad Al-Hallaq in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Haifa, June 2, 2020 (Photo: Suhair Badarni)
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Sure Palestinian lives matter, thy just matter less than Jewish lives. Time to drag out an old report from Adalah, “The Inequality Report: The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel”:   https://www.adalah.org/uploads/oldfiles/upfiles/2011/Adalah_The_Inequality_Report_March_2011.pdf   This report details some of the main legal, political and policy structures that institutionalize discrimination against the Palestinian… Read more »

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-lobby-sees-black-lives-matter-major-strategic-threat   “Israel lobby sees Black Lives Matter as major strategic threat” Ali Abunimah, Lobby Watch, 8 June 2020, Electronic Intifada   EXCERPT: “As protests sweep the world in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, Israel lobby groups are struggling to appear on board with the Black… Read more »