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Massive Popular Protests in Palestine for National Unity - March 15th, 2011
Here are a number of reports on the rallies held for a unified Palestine yesterday...
Palestinian youth plan peaceful protests for internal unity on Tuesday
Tuesday March 15, 2011 08:54 by IMEMC News Report post
Tuesday, March 15, is the day set for massive popular protests in Palestine, a date set by a number of activist groups and the Youth for the End of Internal Divisions campaign.
The protests and marches are scheduled to begin in Gaza, the West Bank and the 1948 territories on Tuesday by midday.
The campaign issued a statement calling on the Palestinian people to march peacefully carrying Palestinian flags and signs calling for national unity among all Palestinians and their factions.
The activities would include a series of peaceful processions and seminars in all of the occupied territories.
Massive processions will also be held on March 30, the day the marks the Palestinian Land Day.
The statement that was made by the coalition came as a result of coordination between different youth groups in Palestine, groups that seek unity, run and motivated by young Palestinians who want an end to political rifts and divisions.
More than 25 nongovernmental youth organizations in Gaza expressed support for the move, and to all efforts that aim at achieving national unity.
They issued a statement calling on the Palestinian people to support this move, to march carrying Palestinian flags and to chant for unity and for ending the Israeli occupation.
The youth groups said that March 15th will be a day of peaceful protests rejecting the ongoing internal divisions that have negatively impacted the just Palestinian cause, adding that the Palestinians will act to regain their unity.
Hundreds Protest for Unity in Ramallah
Tuesday March 15, 2011 18:43 by Circarre Parrhesia - IMEMC News Report post
Hundreds of protesters came together, on Tuesday, in Ramallah's al-Manara Square to call for the end of political division, and a united stance for all Palestinians against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
The protest was attended by, in this reporter's opinion, upwards of 1,000 Palestinians from many sectors of Palestinian life, and all age groups.
Speakers spoke of unity of Palestinian political parties, and for unity of the greater Palestinian population; in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip, and the millions of refugees dispursed around the world.
The rally was held in high spirits, with nearly all protestors standing as a united group. The one exception was a group of 20 – 25 agitators, who did not express political allegiance with any party, but chanted, with megaphones, slogans criticizing Hamas.
Protestors from the main body argued with this splinter faction, reminding them of the purpose of day, and the friction passed without major incident.
After a few hours of protest, the bulk of people in the square dispersed, leaving a core of 100 or so protestors to continue to chant for unity.
Tens Of Thousands Rally In Gaza Calling For National Unity
Wednesday March 16, 2011 01:48 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News Report post
Rallies organized by a grassroots youth movement in Palestine took place all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday. The largest such rally was in Gaza City, involving tens of thousands of Palestinians from every political faction.
Both major Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fateh, endorsed the rallies, which called for an end to internal divisions in Palestinian society, and a unified resistance to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. Rallies involving all political factions are rare in Palestine, where most marches are organized by political parties.
The organizers of the rally, a loose coalition of youth groups and individuals from across the political spectrum, used online social networks to help spread the word about the day of action, following the lead of Arab youth in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Youth activists stayed overnight in the Square if the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City Monday night, and were joined by tens of thousands of supporters on Tuesday who held Palestinian flags, as well as the flags of various political parties. They chanted slogans for political unity, and called for a unified and non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation and takeover of their land.
Some organizers called for a return of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO, as the voice of the Palestinian people, and some called for the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, saying the Authority was illegitimate and not representative of the Palestinian people. But most of the participants simply called for an end to internal divisions among the Palestinian people.
Since Hamas won elections in 2006 in Palestine, the Fatah party, which lost power, has tried to reclaim power using coercion and violence, with Hamas supporters responding with violence. A wave of attacks and counter-attacks took place throughout 2007 and 2008 in Gaza, with hundreds of people killed and injured on both sides.
Popular Rally Calls for Palestinian Unity in Nablus
Wednesday March 16, 2011 05:38 by Alessandra Bajec - IMEMC News Report post
Special Report From Nablus
Over 1,500 Palestinians took to the streets of Nablus, on Tuesday, urging for national unity and an end of internal division, in tandem with thousands of pro-unity protesters in the West Bank and Gaza.
Palestinian protesters marched in the city of Nablus, on Tuesday morning, to demand unity between the polarised Hamas and Fatah factions, in a round of massive peaceful protests staged across Palestine. March the 15th was the date set by a number of activist groups and the Youth for the End of Internal Divisions campaign to hold the popular rallies under the slogan of ‘no to divisions’.
Groups of independent youth, University students, and other activists organized the public march independently, away from the influence of political factions.
Palestinians came to take part in the rally while representing themselves only, and no party or political movement of any kind.
Two an-Najah University female students claimed that more than 70,000 overall signed up on the Facebook page for the March 15th mass protest throughout Palestine.
One activist from the Youth for the End of Internal Divisions campaign informed that their Facebook group in Nablus counted 420 people to join the march. In addition, the youth movement connected with independent social organizations to participate either individually or as group representatives, however without expressing any political affiliation in the event. It seemed to be hard to get an-Najah students involved, and the local community too, as most people in Nablus would stand staunchly for one party or another, and not look beyond the political belonging.
Around 40 Palestinian students and unity supporters gathered across from the main entrance gate of an-Najah University, old campus, after being barred from rallying inside the gates by university security staff on the grounds that students had not requested formal authorization.
At the rally point, three members of Youth for the End of Internal Divisions campaign read their statement urging leaders of the two rival factions to initiate national dialogue leading to the establishment of a national unity government across the West Bank and Gaza. The Youth coalition highlighted that unity is the key to end the Occupation and bring peace and justice to the Palestinian people. Three more statements were read by other protestors.
The coalition also expressed solidarity with Palestinian fellows from villages in the Nablus area, namely the residents of Awarta village who are still under military curfew for the fourth day since Israeli forces began investigations over last Friday’s murder of five family members from the nearby Itamar settlement.
As the protest kicked off by 11.30am, the crowd started marching holding Palestinian flags, as protest organizers had insisted that no party-sympathetic flags would fly during the rally. Protestors carried banners reading ‘Why fight? we’re an occupied land’ and ‘Fatah & Hamas, we want your unity’. Slogans were chanted in Arabic such as ‘No Fatah, No Hamas, we want people united’ or ‘Haniyeh, Abbas: our unity is our basic demand’.
Participants marched peacefully along an-Najah street, and later stopped for a while after a small group showed signs carrying pro-Fatah messages, although protest organizers had warned that no flags or banners supporting one party or another would be allowed during this popular rally.
After ensuring that signs of political belonging were deleted from the banners, the mass resumed marching to head towards the city’s main square.
Dhima, a student at an-Najah, and her friend said protesters were asking to stop the division between Fatah and Hamas, free Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, put a democratic vote through presidential and parliamentary elections, and have one elected national government in the West Bank and Gaza.
Dhima noted two problems in respect to the Nablus rally: most people joined the protest in Ramallah, and the majority of Palestinians would think this public march was a student or youth led initiative whereas it was planned to include every Palestinian (men, women, younger or older).
Estimates claimed there were more than 1,500 participants by the time marchers reached the city's square. More people were expected to join later during the day. Protestors invited people to join from the street, walked by Martyrs' Square and proceed further. The crowd converged on Martyrs’ square where two sit-ins were held with more slogans and popular songs chanted.
One protest organizer gave a speech emphasizing that people must be one to end the Occupation on Palestinian land, Palestinians are obliged to hold responsibility for their own cause, and national unity must be reached among all Palestinians and their factions. He further said on behalf of other activists that they would not leave before their demand of national unity is heard and backed adding that ordinary people, and not leaders, were speaking on this occasion.
Walid, protest organizer and activist from the Youth for the End of Internal Divisions campaign, explained that, despite belonging to the youth coalition, he and other members were there as a group of independent people, and wanted this pro-unity protest to take place everywhere, not just in Ramallah, and mobilize various people, not some factions. Their youth group in Nablus, connected with the branch in Ramallah as well as the other groups in the West Bank and Gaza.
Walid also pointed out that an-Najah should have suspended classes and exams for the day, but the Student council held that they could not get the decision approved by the University due to other preparations ahead of the central march in Ramallah.
He reinforced that the demands of the Youth for the End of Internal Divisions campaign essentially consists in ending divisions so to revive dialogue, to focus on common ground and leave minor differences aside, and holding elections to form a national unity government.
In addition, PA security officials had promised the coalition and other activist groups that police and forces would not stop the protests, and they proved to be cooperative in fact.
Protest organizers announced the event would continue until late evening on Tuesday, in an attempt to pressure Palestinian governments and progress with plans for unity. A tent was set up to continue to protest until national unity is achieved. Activists would spend the night there, take turns to allow people to study and work, discuss and update their strategies over the next few days.
In addressing a message to the international community, Walid said: ‘We want you to support us in our efforts to achieve unity and bring divisions to an end..we ask you to push your governments to promote dialogue between the two rival factions, and cooperate with our demands’
Several activist groups joined together last week, and called for peaceful protests on March 15th to say no to the internal divisions that have negatively impacted the Palestinian cause.
Protests were also staged in Ramallah, Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Hebron. Palestinians were also expected to hold simultaneous protests around the world.
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