Tuesday, July 3rd, saw in the streets of Ramallah the third demonstration in a row that had been called by the youth. While Saturday's demonstration was aimed to protest the invitation to Ramallah extended by the PNA to Shaul Mofaz, Israeli vice-prime minister and war criminal, Sunday's protest was a reaction to the violent repression of the demonstration the previous day.
Palestinian youth assert right to protest over repression
Tuesday's protest was organized by Palestinians for Dignity to once again underline that police brutality by PNA forces will not stop dissent or protests, that the Palestinian people and its new generation will defend their right to participate in the decision making about the strategies of our common struggle and the future of our people.
The demonstration met on Tuesday at 5 pm in Clock Square, and this time we would reach the Muqata'a, the HQ of the PA, and the intended destination of the previous protests.
Over one thousand people gathered, with the crowd again swelling to around 1,200. There were rumours that PA loyalists and off-duty police were going to stage a pro-police demonstration. This is a classic tactic of repression whereby "counter demonstrations" provoke violence, thus giving the riot police a reason to suppress the protesters, claim that the police were attacked first. Luckily, the rumoured pro-police protest seemed to have been only a scare tactic and didn't materialise.
The march was noisy and energetic, and took about half an hour to pass the short distance from Al-Manara Square to the street leading to the Muqata'a. Many journalists, partly fearing police and mukhabarat attacks, and partly as a protest against the beatings of their colleagues on Saturday and Sunday, wore bullet-proof flack jackets, and some had military-grade helmets dangling from their belts. As the crowd arrived at the gates of the Muqata'a, with many journalists clambering onto walls in expectation of an attack by the police or plain-cloth mukhabarat (political police).
However, the youth did not fall into traps of provocation. Instead of approaching the gates of the Muqata'a, where a small group of uniformed police were flanked by black-clad Presidential Guards holding assault rifles, the demonstrators remained on the road. They stayed in front of the Muqata'a and chanted against the Oslo Accords, against normalisation, against security cooperation with the IOF, and against the violence meted out by the mukhabarat and PA police over the last days.
These 30 minutes were probably one of the most explicit and vocal expressions of popular discontent with the paradigm of negotiations created throughout the Oslo process and a Palestinian leadership that does not disentangle itself from the chimera of achieving Palestinian rights through US-backed negotiations. At the same time it was a clear show of courage and determination paired with political maturity.
We turned back and slowly marched back towards Al-Manara, with the air heavy with tension, as the crowd would stop and surge towards even the most minor incident, such as an argument between a protester and the driver of a car. The atmosphere of tension was further heightened by the always more obvious monitoring of the ubiquitous mukhabarat, which this time had exchanged their batons with video cameras.
As the march returned to Al-Manara, the mukhabarat photographed and videotaped the crowd all the way along Al-Irsal Street. Arriving in Ramall's main square, the crowd chanted, as mukhabarat waited around the square, with some climbing up onto the lion monument to film and photograph the crowd.
With Tuesday's demonstration - bigger than Saturday and Sunday - the Palestinian people once again asserted its ownership of the street, and reiterated their right to speak their way and to call for an end to negotiations and security cooperation between the PA and the Occupying Forces. The PNA "security" services and who commands them know well now that visible repression of dissent unleashes an anger against the PA that threatens it greatly. Yet, we all still have to wait to see which actions will by taken by the PA "security" forces once the footage of the unarmed protestors is catalogued and processed.