Palestinian protests increase in the West Bank

For the past four days, Palestinians in in the West Bank and in Palestinian towns inside Israel have taken to the streets to condemn the on-going Israeli air attacks on the Gaza Strip. Fadi Abu Saada, director of the Palestine News Network, has this eyewitness report from Bethlehem.
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A Palestinian woman chants anti-Israeli slogans during a protest in the West Bank city of Ramallah against Israel's offensive in Gaza December 31, 2008. © Fadi Arouri/Reuters

BETHLEHEM, December 31, 2008 (MENASSAT) — For the past four days, Palestinians in cities and towns across the West Bank have been protesting Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip.

These protests have been met with increasing resistance from Palestinian Authority security forces and Israeli security forces.

Through a network of reporters based in cities throughout the West Bank, director of the Palestine News Network (PNN), Fadi Abu Saada brings us these accounts of protests in the West Bank over the last two days.


Voices raised in Bethlehem © AFP

On Wednesday (December 31) everyone in the city wore black and the lights on the Christmas tree standing before the Church of Nativity were turned off.

All of the usual festivities in Bethlehem were canceled, while demonstrations spread through the district, organized by a group of lawyers, the Holy Land Trust Association, and the main telecommunications company in Palestine, which lost dozens of employees in the continuous attacks on Gaza. 

The municipality is on strike with shops and public institutions closed, and transportation ground to a halt.

Clashes were reported with the Israeli Army at rallies in the area of Rachel’s Tomb and in the villages of Hussan and Al-Masra. 


For the fifth consecutive day, demonstrations continued in Jerusalem in condemnation of the massacre in Gaza. Strikes completely paralyzed the commercial center of the city, while social organizations organized protests.

On Monday night, the Israeli police suppressed a youth march in the Old City. The youth responded with shouting slogans like, “No to silence of the occupation crimes,” “Abbas, Stop the negotiations with the enemy,” “Let’s stop Gaza’s massacre with our struggle and unity,” “One people, one nation, one blood.”

Meanwhile, the demonstrations spread to Bab al-Amoud in the Old City, the Red Cross headquarters and the American Consulate where representatives refused to receive anyone, and only accepted a protest letter.

The Israeli police also removed a mourning tent that was raised in Jerusalem for the Gaza martyrs.


Youth protesters arrested by Israeli security forces on Wednesday in Ramallah. © IMEMC

The demonstrations continued in the central West Bank city of Ramallah and al-Bireh, organized by the national and Islamic forces.

A candlelight vigil was held at the Manara, the city center roundabout, where foreigners joined locals to express their support.

Clashes occurred at different times on the northern entrance of al-Bireh between the demonstrators and the Israeli army.


Civil society groups issued a statement in Nablus denouncing the attack on Gaza and urging the world to take action and pressure Israel to put an end to the violence.

A series of clashes took place between the citizens and the Israeli army on the road between Nablus and Qalqilya, which led to many injuries. 


Over the last two days, large demonstrations have filled the streets of the city, as residents demanded that Israel stop the attacks on Gaza. The citizens also organized a blood donation campaign in one of the medical centers in the city.

On Tuesday, a march and a city strike were organized by civil society organizations where letters were symbolically presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the Red Cross, and to Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League. The letter entitled, “Let the extermination war perpetrated by Israel against our people in Gaza end,” focused on four demands:
  1. Ending the military operations against Gaza.
  2. The necessity for international organizations to assume responsibility in sending medical supplies to Gaza, to make sure hospitals carry on with their mission.
  3. Opening the checkpoints and lifting the blockade
  4. Holding Israel responsible for the cessation of violence.
Palestinians in Nazareth hold a banner reading "Gaza is bleeding" during a protest of the Israeli blockade one month before the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza worsened an existing humanitarian crisis. © Getty Images


On day five of the Gaza bombing, the Jenin Lawyer’s Syndicate organized a demonstration in front of the Red Cross demanding that they intervene to end the blockade on humanitarian aid and food rations to Gaza.

The Arab American University suspended its courses after losing a student in Ramallah. The Israeli army also banned a number of European support groups from entering the Palestinian territories some of whom planned to travel to Jenin to organize non-violent demonstrations.


Continuous demonstrations have been taking place over the past five days.

Today a women’s march moved from the city center to al-Manara. The Arabs48 news website reported today that clashes took place again between hundreds of protesters and Israeli policemen in al-Ein area, and the main street in Nazareth city.

Dozens of protesters have been wounded by the Israeli army in the last few days. 

Israeli police also arrested nine protesters, five from Nazareth and four from the village of Taybeh.


For additional coverage of events in the Palestinian Territories go to the Palestine News Network.