(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
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.
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
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