The Palestinian Spring – This Week in Palestine

 Weather wise it is certainly spring in Palestine (sorry Brits) and I have been springing up too, all over the West Bank – Jenin, Nablus, Sabastya, Nabi Saleh, with little chance to blog.

But as for a Palestinian Spring, a popular uprising, there have only been pockets of rebellion, although there were devastating events this week that could have acted as triggers. One event was the shackled death of the Palestinian hero Hamydeh; Hebron particularly erupted. The second was in when two teenagers were killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces in an angry demonstration over Hamydeh’s death. A third event could occur if the hunger striker Issawi dies. However I am reminded by the Jewish writer Uri Averny that the two previous intifadas started spontaneously, without obvious triggering events. . 

Eyes have turned to another way of attacking the occupation, the hacking of the Mossad website, which revealed the names of spies and collaborators.

 Children’s Day, Nabi Saleh

 And who’s the party poo poo? Well as it is Friday in Nabi Saleh it has to be the Israeli Occupation Force, today shooting more skunk water than usual. Maybe the wind is in the right direction.

 Before the march I sit in the sitting room of Naji and Boshra, and catch up on emails. At the start of the demonstration I have a surprise reunion with Ellie, a solidarity activist who I first met at the Peace News Peace Camp back in England, and then again in Palestine last year. She is back in Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement, and we swap experiences (ISM is mainly in Hebron). Last year she had been under house arrest in Tel Aviv for activism, so had to change her name to get back into the West Bank this time. She gave me information on how to do it painlessly.

Then the children lead the march, singing joyfully, holding balloons.

Nabi Saleh kids at the beginning of the peaceful march

We turn a corner and, half way down this road, as usual, we meet the army and border police. They begin to spray skunk water on us. It catches Nariman and she runs home to shower and take off her putrid-smelling clothes.Gill 2013 'Skunk' sprayer

 For me one run up the hill, and one lot of tear gas, is ‘khalas’ – enough! I go back to Boshra’s where I listen to Ehad talking about the village council’s strategic plans, and discuss an English conversation programme I am going to. A bit surreal because in the distance grenades are still going off and people are to-ing and fro-ing: going out to observe the Occupation Force entering the village and coming back to escape the tear gas.

Gill 2013 Boshra

The IOF leaves the village at 3.30 and I help Boshra weed her smaller terraces while a local farmer turns over the larger terraces, ploughing them with his donkey. The men go off to formalise arrangements for an upcoming marriage, as is the custom here. Dinner follows and an evening to relax. The way Palestinians switch from resistance to carrying on ‘normally’ never ceases to amaze me!

 Major-General Sami Tugeman has recently been sworn in as the new chief of the IOF. He said in his inauguration speech:

 “A quick glance around us reveals new and old threats, close and far, that present before us a complex and sensitive reality,” he said during the ceremony. “With the ability and preparedness of our units we will deter (Israel’s enemies) from fighting (us), but if (there will be fighting), we will strike shrewdly and forcefully.”

 Using skunk water, tear gas etc against the threat of the non-violent demonstrations for Palestine; Palestinians demonstrating non-violently for their rights? Please! By ‘far threats’ does he means Iran? The IOF will not be needed, surely – the attack will be with drones.

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