Today (26th August), a broad coalition of grassroots activists will descend on Jerusalem from four directions, marching on Israeli checkpoints in Qalandia (Ramallah), Bethlehem, Shu’afat refugee camp and the village of Biddu. The action coincides with the international Youm Al-Quds (Jerusalem Day), which is marked annually on the last Friday of Ramadan.
The action has been called by Olive Revolution, a campaign which declares itself a “popular revolution and national humanitarian non-armed revolution against the Israeli occupation”,(1) and is supported by a number of established groups including the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) and the Central Committee for the right of return march.
The organisers also state that they expect participation from “Members of the Legislative Council, Ministers, Members of the Central Committees & offices of political parties and factions”.(1) And, crucially, it has also been indicated that activists from Bil’in, Ni’ilin, Nabi Saleh and Ma’asara will engage in the action in place of weekly demonstrations against the ‘Wall’ in their respective villages.(2)
The PSCC describe the intent of the action on their website:
Palestinian activists, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters will convene to launch the Olive Revolution campaign by marching on Jerusalem from north, west, south and east. The demonstrations will be held under the “knocking on Jerusalem’s gates” slogan, emphasize the fact that Palestinians are systematically denied entry to the city Israel, despite it being part of the territory occupied in 1967 together with the rest of the West Bank.
Ahead of September and the PLO’s planned UN bid for statehood, the protesters will also stress Jerusalem’s unassailable importance as the Palestinian capital.
The protesters will convene at the four spots the last Friday midday prayer of Ramadan will be held. The prayer will be followed by an attempt to march to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem through the military checkpoints.(3)
In the wake of the huge marches of Nakba Day (May 15), and continued actions on Naksa Day (June 5), this new action once again aims to challenge Israel’s mechanisms of spatial control through mass non-violent direct action. As Palestinians and their supporters attempt to assert their right to enter Jerusalem, the Israeli government will once again find itself with a choice; whether to pursue further violent repression of the ongoing popular struggle, or to simply allow the people to enter the city which – under international law and bilateral agreements – they have every right to access.
The Israeli response is likely to set a precedent ahead of further mass actions expected to accompany the Palestinian Authority’s bid for UN statehood recognition in September.
(Note: For a broader discussion of the Olive Revolution, and its significance in relation to the wider popular struggle and the PA statehood bid, it is well worth reading this article by Alex Kane on +972.)
1. Mondoweiss, ‘Olive Revolution’ plans to march on Jerusalem from four directions this Friday (press release by Olive Revolution)