Bearing Witness

Yasser Arafat memorial rally – Ramallah

Today I attended a memorial rally for Yasser Arafat, it was an amazing experience. It was like being a part of history, as it was held in the Fatah compound in Ramallah. A place I have seen time and time again on TV, the same place where he was basicly held captive for several months by the Israeli Defence Force [IDF], the same place his body was returned to after his death in France and the same place where he gave countless speech’s to the international media about the plight of his people.

I travel to Ramallah on a bus provide by Fatah’s youth organisation, with a local volunteer from Project Hope. The bus left from the university in Nablus at around 9.00am and we arrived in Ramallah just after 12.00pm. A trip that Jaffa, the local Project Hope volunteer, informed me took 45 minutes before the check points and road detours where put in place by the Israeli’s. There where three check points, two of which we could drive through and where only a minor inconvenience. Plus one at Huwarra where we had to get out and walk through. I was through within five minutes with my international passport, however the locals had to line up in what looked remarkably like a cattle corral for over an hour to be search and questioned one at a time by the IDF. This plus the road detours, which have been put in place to divert Palestinian traffic away from, often ilegal the Jewish settlements, added around two hours to our trip. A trip many Palestinian take on a daily basis.  

By the time we arrived the rally had already started. The crowd was massive, ten’s of thousands of incredibly passionate people, all cheering and waving flags at the mere mention of Yasser Arafat’s name. It was great to see, as Yasser is one of my hero’s. A man who dedicated his life to his people and has come to embody their struggle for self-determination, a struggle that unfortunately continues to this day.

Yasser Arafat memorial rally

Yasser Arafat memorial rally

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November 13, 2008 - Posted by | My Thoughts, My Travels | ,

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