(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinians in Bethlehem set fire to pictures of US President Barack Obama on
Monday, saying he was not welcome in their city.
Scores of protesters
gathered near Manger Square and threw shoes at a US diplomatic vehicle as it
arrived at the scene as part of preparations for Obama’s visit to the city later
The protesters also set fire to signs posted in the city
earlier this week reminding Obama that Palestinians still don’t have 3G
Similar anti-Obama demonstrations are expected
to take place in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities in the coming
Palestinian Authority policemen did not intervene to stop the
Bethlehem demonstrators from burning the pictures of Obama.
A PA security
officer said that the PA would not act against those who seek permission to
protest against Obama’s visit.
There were even indications that the PA
leadership was encouraging or initiating some of the protests.
Bethlehem demonstration, some protesters carried a placard belonging to the PA
Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees that read: “No one shall be subjected to
torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
protesters also trampled on Obama’s picture, chanting, “America is the head of
“We came here today to tell Obama that we don’t want 3G in
Palestine,” said Samir Odeh, a Fatah activist in Bethlehem. “We want a state,
the release of prisoners and an end to settlement construction.
want to see our refugees return to their homes.”
Waving a shoe in his
hand, Fayez Mansour of the Dehaishe refugee camp near Bethlehem said that Obama
was not welcome in the city.
“We won’t receive Obama with flowers and a
red carpet,” he declared. “We will receive him with shoes. We want to tell
America that we hate you and you have no place here. We don’t want to see Obama
in Palestine. He is coming to save Israel. He does not have anything to offer
Another protester who asked not to be identified said many
Palestinians in the city were opposed to Obama’s visit, “especially since he has
made it clear that he is coming as a pilgrim.”
The Palestinians, he
added, have sent a message to Obama that he is not welcome in the Palestinian
“Obama is coming to help the Israelis,” he said. “He is not
coming to help the Palestinians. He has been supporting Israeli occupation and
oppression of our people.”
Mazen al-Azza, one of the organizers of the
anti-Obama protest, said that the main objective of the president’s visit was to
support Israel politically and militarily.
“Obama is not welcome in
Palestine,” Azza said. “He has done nothing for the Palestinians.
not care about the Palestinian prisoners who are being held in
Ahlam al-Wahsh, another activist, said that Obama would be
welcome in Bethlehem only if he manages to secure the release of Palestinian
prisoners and stop settlement construction.
Meanwhile, US helicopters
landed at the PA presidential compound in Ramallah on Monday as part of
preparations for Obama’s visit.
PA officials said that the helicopters
were rehearsing the arrival of Obama in Ramallah. The officials denied that the
helicopters were carrying US security guards.
The arrival of the
helicopters in Ramallah drew strong protests from some Palestinians, who said
they too were opposed to Obama’s visit.
As one of the helicopters hovered
over the compound, a woman standing near the area shouted, “Allahu Akbar! Obama
is not welcome in Palestine. He is an Israeli agent.”
officials said that the Americans would be in charge of security arrangements
during Obama’s visit to Ramallah and Bethlehem.