500 demonstrate at Kalandiya for Palestinian state

Video: Palestinian children throw stones at IDF position following relatively calm rally by Israeli, Palestinian women ahead of UN bid.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
September 18, 2011 03:48
2 minute read.
Kalandiya demonstration

Kalandiya demonstration. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)

 
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More than 500 people demonstrated on both sides of the Kalandiya checkpoint between the capital and Ramallah on Saturday morning, in support of recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN this week.

The protest, made up of mostly women, was organized by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement and the Campaign of Israeli and Palestinian Women, an umbrella organization for left-leaning groups in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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The demonstration went peacefully until the end and there were no arrests, though the checkpoint was closed to traffic for around an hour to prevent the protesters on the two sides from joining up, Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

Firebombs, bottles and rocks were thrown at journalists at the rally's conclusion, after a relatively quiet demonstration, the IDF Spokesman's Office said.

“The feeling was it would maybe be a test to see how the security forces react,” said Sara Benninga, an organizer with the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement.

Capt. Barkat Raz, from the IDF Spokesman’s Office, tweeted in the middle of the protest that there was “no violence thus far-cheers, chants, flags, banners, and most importantly, no friction – these are type of protests we can live with.”

The soldiers were told at a pre-demonstration briefing that “professionalism is central here” and “we must act professionally and responsibly to allow the protest while preventing violent instigators from taking advantage,” Raz wrote.



The protest was the first in what many believe will be a tense week ahead of a Palestinian statehood vote at the UN.

“I hope to be optimistic,” Benninga said on Saturday evening. “I and a lot of other people are worried about the reactions when there are huge groups, as there will be,” she said.

“We are also worried the international community doesn’t understand how important this step is. They’ve been saying for years, ‘Do nonviolent struggle,’ but the moment you do nonviolent demonstrations, people stop paying attention.”

For the coming week, “there’s a mixture of being worried about what will happen and a lot of hope,” Benninga said. “But hope carries with it the possibility of disappointment. A lot of people want this to change, people have been saying this for years. We’ve built up a great tradition of resistance movements, but it really does have to change.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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