I am sorry that I have not mentioned yet that my brave friends in Palestine are erupting. The virus of revolt has spread to Gaza City. And thank god. Apparently on Tuesday the 15 there was a Day of Rage – thousands of young Palestinians spilled out into the street, mobilizing in Omar al-Mokhtar Street in Gaza City and then moving on to Al-Kitaaba Square. There, by most accounts, there was almost no showing of the Fateh yellow, but Hamas security forces responded the way Hamas security forces have been responding to internal social mobilization for some time now – with the bludgeon. I heard that one friend – a 21-year-old girl – was beaten. There were doubtless scores if not hundreds of beatings that I did not hear about. I have heard rumors that another man was beaten so severely that he died. Another friend, a journalist, was threatened with death if she reported on Hamas’s repressive actions. Mohammed Suliman was there, and writes (I recommend checking out his full account):
As the protesters gathered at al-Jundi al-Majhool square, everyone was thunderstruck to see the green flags of Hamas raised jointly with the Palestine flag. We had agreed earlier that no flags whatsoever should to be raised but the Palestinian flag. This is a rally against the disunity between the Palestinian people embodied in the Fatah-led PA in the West Bank, and the Hamas-dominated government in the Gaza Strip. To end this disunity is to raise neither Fatah’s nor Hamas’s flag. To end it, we must raise but the Palestinian flag. However, as more and more protesters arrived at the square where a few minutes later our rally would begin, Hamas green flags kept fluttering in the air.
We gathered at some aria, and everyone seemed to grow more tense and concerned about this ominous forerunner. The chanting began, “people want to end the division.” Meanwhile, a huge protest came over and broke into where we already gathered. They raised more and more green flags among which Palestinian flags were also raised. They chanted echoing our chants, “People want to end the division.” As they arrived, tension seemed to grow more rapidly, and looming clashes could be envisioned. As expected, the Hamsawiyes (and here I label none, but describe them by how they decided to appear on such a day by raising their political party’s flags) tried to break into us and steal the show by leading the protest and raising their flags. Some of us tried to push them back and keep them from infiltrating our rally, chanting “Barra!” – get out. They soon overcame us by their huge numbers, and unmistakable will for stating a fight.
Helpless, we decided we could hold them back from taking control of the rallies and at the same time refrain from starting any fight by withdrawing from al-Jundi and protesting somewhere else. However, “somewhere else” in Gaza is no easy a task to find for protesters in such immense numbers, and so we started marching ahead aimlessly. For once we seemed to be heading to nowhere. We continued marching, chanting and clapping, until we arrived at as-Saraya (the main and largest prison in Gaza, located at an intersection at the end of the street leading to al-Jundi). There we waited for moments before we returned to where we were— al-Jundy al-Majhool area…
At another protest later on, apparently Hamas policemen forcibly dispersed a rally of schoolgirls, and have been harassing journalists. The protesters asked for help from the Red Cross, or at least protection. They did not get it.
Jehan Al-Farra writes, in another entry that’s worth reading in its entirety:
Even if our protests merely expressed our dissatisfaction with disunity, I am all for it. Every wound, every bruise, and every insult is to remain a badge of honour for everyone who participated. I will not let them get to me and I will not cave in; they want to play it dirty? So be it, we are Palestinians after all. We have got nothing more to lose.
It is generally not my job here to criticize Hamas, because they don’t listen to me and I’m not proving my bona fides by slamming the Hamas government, even if they are far-too-frequently despicable. But it is the Abbas/Fayyad government in Ramallah that will have to break with its core principles – political treason and collaboration – in order to create a unity government, and they will only do so under massive popular pressure or the threat of massive popular pressure, because the elite in Ramallah does too well off administering the occupation to be seriously interested in ending it. They are bought off (Lest we get too righteous about it, we buy them off). Haniyeh reportedly supports unity, as do senior ministers in Gaza. But the political bureau in Damascus does not, assuming that Hamas’s hand will be stronger as the Arab revolt crests. Nonetheless, protest in Gaza is good: for one thing, it brings attention to the protesters. For another, even in the absence of unity, the Hamas government has been overstepping its bounds for some time. This is not a national liberation movement. To that end, the protesters have a series of demands:
1 – The release all political detainees in the prisons of the PA and Hamas
2 – The end of all forms of media campaigns against each other.
3 – The resignation of the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad to re-build a government of national unity agreed by all Palestinian factions representing the Palestinian people.
4 – The restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to contain all the Palestinian factions and get back to its initial aim: Palestine’s freedom from illegal occupation.
5 – The announcement of the freeze of negotiations until the full compatibility between the various Palestinian factions on a political program.
6 – The end of all forms of security coordination with Israeli occupation forces.
7 – The organization of presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously in the time chosen by all the factions
Apparently Haniyeh invited Abbas to Gaza for joint talks. I don’t think this will be resolved by talking. Abbas is too invested – literally – in the peace process. As Netanyahu clarified to him on Thursday, Palestinian national unity will be the end of the peace process.
And what can I say to the comrades in Gaza? I wish I were there with you. Good luck.
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