As the news started to emerge that the Israeli occupation army was shooting in cold blood unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the March of Return, on the borders of the besieged Gaza Strip, we were all in the Land Day demonstrations in the Galilee and the Triangle. While still demonstrating, we started to coordinate a protest in Haifa for the next day, Saturday, March 31.
On Saturday night about a hundred residents of Haifa and the area gathered at the Martyr Bassel al-A’araj junction(*) in the German Colony to protest against the massacre. The initial invitation came from Herak Haifa, but members of Palestinian parties and other democratic activists in the city soon joined the call and helped to spread the word. Most of the participants were young Palestinians, many of them with red keffiyehs on their necks, but there was also significant participation of Jewish democratic activists.
The protesters carried Palestinian flags and signs in Arabic, Hebrew and English, including “Stop the massacre!”, “Shooting demonstrators is a war crime”, “Stop Israel’s war crimes”, “We are all Gaza”, “Free Palestine”, “Our masses join us, our people in Gaza sacrifice their blood”, “Freedom, freedom, My people want freedom”, “Down with the Oslo agreement”, “Today we close the streets” and much more. The demonstrators also carried slogans calling for a general strike to protest the massacre.
Although no march was pre-planned, after about half an hour the demonstrators began marching through Allenby Street in the direction of Wadi Nisnas. From there the procession turned into the alleys of the Wadi, where they even invented a special slogan: “Rise up Wadi Nisnas, defend Gaza and defend the people” (in Arabic it is a rhyme). After the tour, the procession returned through Khuri Street, the main street that crosses the Wadi, and from there to Emile Habibi Circle, where we stood on the middle of the crossroads and chanted slogans. Finally, the procession closed Allenby Street again on its way to its point of origin in the German Colony.
A small police force waited for us on the other side of the Martyr Bassel junction and followed us through the march, but this time the “anti-riot” Special Forces were nowhere to see. The demonstration dispersed without the intervention of the police.
You may watch a video of the demo here.
(This post appeared in Hebrew in Haifa Ha-Hofshit)
(*) After Bassel Al-A’araj was murdered by the occupation forces on March 6, 2017, Herak Haifa decided to name the junction, where many demonstrations take place, after him, to commemorate his revolutionary legacy. This came after the successful experience of naming another central square in the German Colony “Prisoner’s Square”, a name that is now widely used by people in Haifa.