August 28 (JMCC) - Several hundred Palestinian demonstrators and their
supporters met at Qalandiya checkpoint and other areas around Jerusalem Friday
in a non-violent protest of Israeli control over the city.
“We’re trying to
make it clear to the world that it is our right to go to Jerusalem at any
time,” said a 22-year-old activist who helped organize the protest. He asked
that his name not be used.
the Palestinian flag and chanted, “Revolution against occupation,” in Arabic,
despite the firing of waves of tear gas that dispersed the crowds and made it
difficult to breath, said eyewitnesses.
At least two Palestinian
activists were arrested Friday and then later released.
organized by a group called the “Olive Revolution” and entitled “Knocking on
Jerusalem’s Doors,” called for supporters to march into the city, which Palestinians
view as the future capital of the Palestinian state.
Activists also led
demonstrations at Bethlehem, Shufat, and Biddu, in addition to the one at Qalandiya
checkpoint. The marches were set up in order to approach Jerusalem from four
demonstrators gathered between 1:00 and 1:30 pm near the checkpoint, where Muslims
who were not permitted to enter Jerusalem conducted prayers under a
teal-colored tarp, said a prominent Palestinian rights activist who asked not
to be named.
After the prayers,
activists began leading the march toward the checkpoint.
But the Israeli
military had shut down Qalandiya’s Jerusalem-bound passageway that afternoon,
forcing the demonstrators to stop under the tarp where prayers had taken place.
youth organizers were men who did not have Israeli permission to enter
led chants near the Wall constructed at Qalandiya, shouting that they would
pass through the gate and waving the Palestinian flag and the flag of the Olive
Revolution. Both flags were then tacked onto the cement wall that severs
Ramallah from East Jerusalem, near a graffiti painting that reads “Free
At that point,
one of the organizers began calling on demonstrators to board busses and leave
the checkpoint. Many protestors refused to leave, however.
military soon began shooting teargas and stun grenades into the crowd, forcing
the demonstration to disperse. According to media reports, one of the
Palestinian young people threw a rock at a military tower from which Israeli soldiers
were spitting on the activists below.
arrived as people tried to hide in nearby shops and restaurants to reduce their
exposure to the stinging gas. Soldiers moved pass the separation barrier into the
camp itself, home to thousands of Palestinians, firing more canisters of teargas.
police in uniform were also seen near the checkpoint before the protest
checking Palestinians’ identity cards.
Once the air had
cleared, a smaller crowd returned to the checkpoint. Those remaining consisted
of a mixture of Palestinians and Westerners.
Friday activity at the checkpoint continued. Palestinians returning from praying
at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, however, had to cover their mouth and eyes to
protect themselves from the teargas that lingered in the air.
Youth Voice, a blog written by activists who participated in the demonstration,
estimated that 100 to 150 people participated in the demonstration. Other news
reports said that as many as 300 people joined in.