More Days of Rage to Come, but at What Cost?

(Photo: Mahmoud Abu Salama)(Photo: Mahmoud Abu Salama)

Weekly protests are continuing in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with no sign of “surrender.” The death toll has reached 12 — with most occurring in the Gaza Strip, where a caustic pall from burning tires hangs perpetually in the air. Meanwhile, amidst the chaos and rage, hopes for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, are flagging as attention wanes.

In an attempt to ramp up the pressure on US and international leaders, Fatah officials are calling for protests every day this week, both along the Gaza and Israeli border and at West Bank checkpoints. And all of the political factions have united in urging Palestinians everywhere to make this Friday (January 29) the largest “day of rage.”

Will such demonstrations be effective in provoking a backlash against the United States, or even in reversing Trump’s decision? Some Palestinians in Gaza say the protests aren’t worth the risk they pose.

Ahmed Abu Hatel, a 22-year old student at al-Azhar University, is staying away from the protests because, “despite being peaceful, Israeli forces can become violent at any time. I am the only son in my family, and my parents are old. If I died, who would take care of them?”

Instead, he said, there are safer ways to express the people’s anger and frustration. “You can write, for example, a poem about how we feel about Jerusalem, or make a YouTube video.” One example of protesting through poems and other forms of the written word is We Are Not Numbers, a Gaza-based youth storytelling project whose writers have written a number of poems and narratives expressing their passion for Jerusalem; they are published on the project’s website and shared widely through social media.

(Photo: Mahmoud Abu Salama)(Photo: Mahmoud Abu Salama)

Salwa Mohammed, a 31-year-old activist working with a media-production company, agreed with abu Hatel….

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