Demonstration in Beit Hanoun

21 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

At 11 A.M. this morning we gathered for the weekly demonstration against the occupation in Beit Hanoun.  This demonstration was different from the other demonstrations though.  Today, a troupe of young girls were joining us.  The girls were part of the Vittorio Arrigoni summer camp that had been organized by the Forsan Al Ghad center in Beit Hanoun.

Earlier in the morning the children had learned to sing Bella Ciao and had a 1K race.  The five fastest children were awarded t shirts as prizes.  The summer camp aims not only to provide a happy refuge for the children, but also to impress upon them the importance of being active, of giving back to their communities.

The camp hopes to inspire the campers through the life of Vittorio, with his devotion to standing in solidarity with the oppressed.  When Vittorio was alive he was a regular at the demonstrations in Beit Hanoun, every Tuesday he would march into the buffer zone to protest the injustice of the occupation.

Today, we gathered, maybe 50 people, the girls holding a giant Palestinian flag over their heads, the rest of us carrying our own Palestinian flags.  Bella Ciao played over a loudspeaker, the girls sang along.  After Bella Ciao we chanted, against the occupation, for justice, in memory of Vittorio.  As always, the closer we got to the buffer zone the more tense everyone became, a jackhammer started work in the distance, everyone flinched, looked around. Everyone was worried that for some unknown reason that the Israeli’s had decided to start shoting even earlier than usual.

Two weeks ago one of the young men in the march was injured by shrapnel from an Israeli shell, since then, everyone is tenser, more worried as we approach the buffer zone.  After realizing that it was just a jackhammer, people relaxed a bit, we continued on, to the edge of the buffer zone.

Usually, we go into the buffer zone, not today.  We stopped at the edge of the buffer zone; the children looked into the distance, into the land from which their grandfathers had been expelled in 1948, at the horrible ugly wall which Israel has erected to keep them from returning to their homes.

We sang, we chanted, Sabur gave a short speech, but we did not press on into the buffer zone, it is too dangerous to take the children there.  It is enough that the Israeli soldiers saw us, that they saw the children of the men their grandfathers had expelled from their homes, and that we raised our voices against injustice.

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