This year’s Nakba protest at Ofar, called for by Stop the Wall and the Independent Youth Movement (Herak Shebabi), has seen up to two thousand people challenging the occupation at the checkpoint outside Ramallah, near the Israeli military prison.
The protest started in anticipation as people had filled the gathering point already by noon time. The crowd that was gathered at the edge of the Beitunia neighborhood started marching towards the Ofar military installations. Large numbers of Israeli occupation forces were present in front of the checkpoint, the nearby prison and in the surrounding fields, ready to repress the protest.
Soon the protest grew in numbers. Already by 1 pm around a thousand people had joined the protest and an hour later – when news about the ongoing clashes reached the Nakba events around Ramallah’s center square al Manara – many more moved from there to back up the protestors in the continuing confrontations at Ofar.
Nevertheless Israeli military was able to enter into the residential areas of Beitunia and stationed itself on roof tops, gardens and other areas. The military fired an enormous amount of teargas, rubber bullets, sound bombs on the protestors. Skunk water was sprayed in the area. Jeeps have been charging people in the streets. Many had to be treated for severe suffocation due to the tear gas hanging heavt everywhere. However, the protestors did not stop their action and continue until this moment in the streets.
Aghsan Barghouti, an activist with the Herak Shebabi states:
“This year the Nakba protest has had for the first time since I remember a hopeful note. We are all aware and conscious of the historic victory our prisoners have achieved through their mere determination and strength of will. We are here to give a message that the Palestinian people in the streets have the same capacity to endure and to steadfast. We will continue on the path of our prisoners and move forward, step by step, to finally end our Nakba and see our refugees return. “
Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Stop the Wall campaign, comments:
“The commemoration of the Nakba is every year an occasion to remember the catastrophe that our people has suffered since 1948, which includes the expulsion of the majority of our people from their homes. Nakba protests send a message to the world that we will not forget nor surrender our right of return.
“This year we have chosen to protest at Ofar so that our prisoners may hear the sounds of the protest – a salute to them that underlines our conviction that no matter what, it won’t be the occupation to break our resistance. We will overcome the occupation.”