RAMALLAH, September 21 (JMCC) - Thousands of Palestinians rallied in Ramallah’s downtown in support of Palestine Liberation Organization
head Mahmoud Abbas in his effort to gain international recognition of a Palestinian state.
Callers shouted patriotic chants from a traffic circle as students and other youth cried out “freedom!” and “statehood!”.
One young man tried to burn an American flag during the rally, but the flame did not catch.
The youth was unidentifiable, his head wrapped in a white scarf. After the flag-burning failed, he ducked into the crowd, pursued by a horde of Palestinians in street clothes and media.
The announcers quickly recaptured the crowd’s attention, however, saying that they did not want to slam any one country.
“There is no hidden agenda,” the male announcer said in Arabic, “we just want freedom for our country.”
The speakers said that statehood was a step towards freedom for the Palestinian people. They also feted Abbas, shouting out support for the leader as he and other Palestinian officials prepare to present the statehood request to the United Nations in New York on Friday.
Patriotism has been stepped up in Ramallah in recent days with the distribution of Palestinian flags and banners calling for Palestine to be the 194th state to be recognized at the UN.
The rally in Ramallah, duplicated in other Palestinian towns, is part of an effort by the Palestinian Authority to limit protests to the center of the cities, where they are less likely to clash with the Israeli military.
Still, there were reports of injuries at Ramallah’s Qalandia checkpoint
as youth clashed with the army.
Elementary school students were given a day off from classes today, and those in higher grades were released after 10:00 a.m. Students from nearby Birzeit University were also at the event waving flags and contributing to the cheerful and patriotic atmosphere. Other young people had “194” painted on their faces in support of the bid.
Following speeches, nationalist folk band Ashaqin led the crowd in several songs celebrating Palestinian history and folklore. Dancers in traditional clothing performed as thousands of young people looked on.