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Trouble rising in the West Bank
by Yacov I. Claude
2015-04-28 08:28:11
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As I write you these lines, I hear the cries of the "shabab", the youth shouting "Allah Akbar" up the street, and the loud reactions of the stun grenades.

This is at the top of the Mount of Olives (At-Tur), a few hundred yards only from the Gethsemani Garden, the Cedron Valley, the Golden Gate and the Old City.

west01_400East Jerusalem had been quiet for months I was told when I arrived last night late. There was a wedding party in the communal center by the mosque, until midnight, and I saw young men dancing at the sound of a band. It could hardly be more festive.

Except that at the same time, shortly before midnight, a teenager from this neighbourhood of At-Tur is said to have attacked soldiers on the borderline of this area, with a meat cleaver. (Check our www.peacelines.org Media - Must Read)

He was shot dead on the spot.

At a quarter to five a.m., after the night call to prayer, a voice full of rage conveyed the information about Ali Abu Ghanam's death in his seventeenth year, and the same info was conveyed from the mosque in close by Al-Issawiya a little later.

A few teenagers from this At-Tur neighbourhood started pelting rocks before 8 a.m., and a riot squad reacted with stun grenades and tear-gas, although moderately. The deceased kid's father, Muhammad Abu Ghanam came shortly after, and was greeted by all the neighbours. Right where young men had been dancing a few hours before, you now had people with red, tearful eyes, standing in line, offering condolences to the grieving father.

The street was not blocked then. Two groups of kids suddenly rushed in, from farther away, at short intervals. Around twenty of them each time. Teenagers all of them, most in their early teens.

In the graveyard behind the mosque, neighbours had started digging a hole, with picks and spades, filling buckets with the brown earth, taking relays, working fast, sweating under the sun.

A young imam came, to express his opposition to violence. I listened to him, and he translated the core of his thoughts. They could be summed up in two words:

"Koullou Wahad!" - WE ARE ALL ONE. Muslims, Christians, Jews, and others.

A good Muslim, he said, does not throw stones. He reacts with his heart, in solidarity with the bereaved. He is helpful, not rageful. Except they would not listen to him, and we had to leave, as the situation was growing increasingly out of control, in between rock pelters and riot police.

Today, another attack of soldiers took place in Hebron, at the Cave of the Patriarchs, one soldier was wounded, and the attacker, in his twenties, was also shot dead.

As mentioned in my previous message sent from Nablus, this may not be hierarchically organized violence, but it spreads and builds up, following grassroots, transversal streams, echoing growing rage and resentment. Adults remain passive and helpless, standing by on the sides, until the tear gas sends them home, and the streets are left to the young rioters.

Many react through systematic denial, and blame it all on the present conditions. "The Occupation" is the key-word.

Three days ago, for Independence Day, for the first time, an Arab-Israeli journalist, Lucy Aharish, lit the torch at the ceremony. These are the words she said in Arabic :

"For our honour as human beings, this is our country, there is no other"

In Hebrew, she added :

"For all human beings wherever they may be, who have not lost hope for peace, and for the children, full of innocence, who live on this Earth..."

So far, some twenty youths have been reported injured, and no arrangement has been concluded between the authorities (who would want the funerals to be restricted to 20 persons) and the Abu Ghanam family.

Dogs are barking in the night, and the youths can be heard, nearby, running, and yelling. This is not the Jerusalem I have known for fifteen years, since the beginning of the Second Intifada.

We are desperately in need of a breakthrough in this deadlock and vicious spiral of violence begetting more violence every day. These are dangerous times.

The release of Dr Aziz Dweik, Speaker of the Parliament, arbitrarily arrested in June last year, could send the sort of signal so badly needed. Dr Dweik has always been known as a moderate - if we keep people like him behind bars, who will be in a position to defuse the rising anger ?

Begging for your attention and concern.

With all my best wishes,

In hope still, and trust.


P.S. The day after
We did not lose more blood yesterday at the funerals (check the Media - Must Read section on peacelines.org if you will)
The "clashes" mentioned on the Mount of Olives were actually well managed by the police, and the demonstrators' rage did not burn too high. May this be a turning-point !!!!
Or else, it can become very ugly quite fast...
The authorities must be extremely careful not to make another young martyr. Not to make more martyrs.
Not to kill. Period.
That is the crux of it all at that stage.
Never Kill Another Kid.

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