Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate in central Ramallah, calling for Mahmoud Abbas’ ouster in the face of the Palestinian Authority’s sanctions on the Gaza Strip. Protest organizers say this is only the beginning.
Palestinian protesters marched through the streets of central Ramallah on Sunday to demand that the Palestinian Authority put an end to its sanctions against Gaza, and called for an end to the siege on the Strip.
The protest, organized by local left-wing activists unaffiliated with any specific parties, focused on PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The demonstrators marched from Manara Square in the city center while chanting “Get out, get out Abbas,” along with chants of support for the residents of Gaza.
Upon circling back to Manara Square, the demonstrators say they were surprised to find two anti-Hamas posters. The posters decried the “Hamas coup” in 2007 as the “source of all trouble,” and boasted of the $17 million spent by the PA on Gaza since Hamas took over the Strip.
Despite various reconciliation deals between Fatah and Hamas, and the establishment of a Palestinian unity government in January 2017, since April of last year the Palestinian Authority has placed severe sanctions on the Gaza Strip, including by refusing to pay for the electricity supply from Israel; refusing to pay the tax on diesel intended for Gaza’s power plants, leading to a major electricity crisis; cutting salaries of the PA staff in the Strip, as well as a plan to force PA officials into early retirement; refusing to guarantee medical treatment for seriously ill patients who asked to leave the Strip in order reach hospitals in Israel or the West Bank.
Palestinian police did not arrest a single protester, but journalist Yara Hawari, who was at the demonstration on Sunday, noted “it is possible that they will begin arresting activists in the coming days.”
Arresting protesters that night, Hawari continued, would have would have likely led to an escalation. “The police acted wisely, after all, they do not want to resemble the Israeli police,” she explained, referencing the violent arrests of political activists in Haifa three weeks ago.
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“This is what the activists in Haifa were wondering: where is Ramallah? Remember that organizing demonstrations requires laying the groundwork for bringing people into the streets. People here are fatigued. The Palestinian Authority has been able to break the popular resistance inside Ramallah, and people are feeling desperate.
Is it possible that the anti-government protests in Jordan have brought people out to the streets here?
“It is very possible.”
The protest organizers announced that Sunday’s protest was “only the beginning,” and that additional demonstrations will be held in the coming days.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.