Earlier this week, me and Evie (a Norwegian girl who was staying in Bil’in, the Palestinian village where I live) took a trip to Ramallah, the main city in the occupied West Bank. We had heard there would be a protest in the centre of town – not against the Israeli occupation which oppresses Palestinians every day, but against Mahmoud Abbas’ illegitimate and unelected Palestinian Authority.
As our servise (a bit like a minibus) pulled into Ramallah, we saw demonstrators marching down the road, so got on our way as quickly as possible to join them. Looking around, we quickly realised that we were the only foreigners there. Saying that, I’m pretty sure that my blood flows in the colours of the Palestinian flag after three months of living the struggle in Bil’in.
“Are you Mubadara?” two Palestinian men walking next to us eagerly asked, handing me an orange scarf and Evie a slogan-emblazoned hat. It soon became apparent that we had joined a political party-specific section of the demonstration. Apparently they support capitalism, which I wasn’t too happy about, but never mind, the sun was shining.
After my weekly adventures at the demonstrations in Bil’in, getting tear-gassed the s*** out of by the Israeli Occupation Forces whilst protesting against the illegal Apartheid Wall, Ramallah was a very different experience. In this city, unlike any other in the West Bank, you are relatively shielded from the Israeli Occupation which devastates the life of every Palestinian here. There are no checkpoints, no Wall, no physical symbols to protest against…
However, we were marching for a reason. A few days before, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, under heavy pressure from Israel and the United States, had refused to endorse Richard Goldstone’s UN Report into the recent Israeli assault on Gaza.
If you cast your mind back to “Cast Lead”; in January of this year, Israel launched a murderous invasion into the besieged Gaza Strip, killing over 1500 Palestinians in the process, the large majority of them civilians. Protests raged across the world, with hundreds of thousands of angered demonstrators taking to the streets from London to Cairo, for the duration of the twenty-two-day bloodbath.
In response, the United Nations appointed Judge Richard Goldstone to conduct an investigation into the operation. Despite being a self-professed Zionist, Goldstone had no choice but to admit that there was the possibility that Israel had committed war crimes. It’s a bit like saying there is the “possibility” that Stalin might have killed people. Israel, predictably, denounced the findings as “flawed” and “biased”, despite the fact that Hamas had also been subject to criticism. It seems that anything that doesn’t describe Israel as the number one tourist destination is “biased”.
The report also urged the UN Security Council to refer allegations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if either side failed to investigate and prosecute suspects. Initially, the PA urged UN human rights council members to refer the issue to the Security Council so that this could happen, but when the day of the vote came, they refused to bite the bullet. As the news spread, spontaneous demonstrations spread across Palestine; from Gaza to Ramallah.
The message of our chanting couldn’t have been clearer:
“Abbas has got to go!”
After a few rounds of the main square, me and Evie went to a nearby Lebanese restaurant for a bite to eat. On the surface, life goes on as normal in Ramallah, but not far under the surface, a storm is waiting to erupt.