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Sunday Aug. 28, 2011 10:12 AM (EST+7)
‘Olive revolution’ protest snuffed out at Qalandiya checkpoint

Read more: protests, Qalandiya, Palestine, Jerusalem, demonstrations, Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, Jerusalem, Olive Revolution, checkpoints

QALANDIYA, 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.


Demonstrators waved 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.


The protest, 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 sides.




The 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.


Joining the youth organizers were men who did not have Israeli permission to enter Jerusalem.


The activists 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 Palestine.”


At that point, one of the organizers began calling on demonstrators to board busses and leave the checkpoint. Many protestors refused to leave, however.


The Israeli 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.


An ambulance 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.


Palestinian 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.


Meanwhile, normal 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.


Palestinian 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.







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