Statehood at the UN day

By David

My second full day in the country was the most hectic and most emotional day of all my time in activism.

We started at the weekly demonstration in Bi’lin, it was very nice to see how the fence had been taken down and the Palestinians had gained a lot more land back. The demonstration now took place very near to the settlement with settlers sat on their roofs watching the proceedings. As usual at Bi’lin there where many internationals.

After this we went straight the Qalandia area to take part in the demonstration there, I can only describe more as a war zone than a
demonstration. The Israel Offence Forces as well as border police where not even bothering with tear gas when we were there, they where just firing rubber coated steal bullets down a very cramped street at civilians. I saw many people injured by these. They also used a new weapon called “The Scream” which produces a very loud noise like a car alarm which you just cant stand for too long. Many people where injured and the atmosphere was angry.

As it got dark the soldiers retreated back to the actual checkpoint but carried on firing tear gas at head level, cars where screaming past and I saw bystanders get caught up in the clouds of very strong tear gas. They even fired tear gas down from the towers into groups of children in the darkness. This sort of aggression is expected of the Israeli soldiers however in the darkness it was very scary.

When we got back to central Ramallah the mood was jubilant and happy. Thousands of people lined the streets to listen to Abbas’s speech. The Palestinians where celebrating to fullest degree with huge conveys of cars and trucks covered in people singing and dancing and screaming slogans. It was such a nice end to what had been a very hard day. I wasn’t really sure what they where celebrating for but I couldn’t help but join in, maybe they where just celebrating being Palestinian but it was one of the best atmospheres I have ever been in and was so much fun.

It reminded me that a big part of ISM trips to Palestine is being happy, it such a beautiful country with the nicest people and now past the stresses of arriving I am happy to be back here.