Tiananmen Square Moment – A new form of non-violent protest at Qalandia today: Standing up to the skunk spray machine

A small group of protesters in today’s protest at Qalandia marking the outbreak of the June 1967 war stood up in front of — and blocked — the “skunk spray” or “sewage water” machine that was hosing demonstrators with a revolting and persistently-smelly blue-colored water.

Photo by courtesy of the photographer, Mohamed Jaradat

Fadi Quran, one of coordinators of Manara Youth group protests
since the beginning of 2011 stands (with colleagues) with his hands raised
in front of IDF skunk spray machine


It was the first time the “skunk spray” machine was used at Qalandia.  [It was used on Friday for the first time in a Friday protest against the Wall at Nabi Saleh… It sprayed some protesters, then it went into the center of the village and sprayed the streets and the homes, requiring a massive clean-up campaign.]

And, it was the first time Palestinian protesters in the West Bank used this tactic of non-violent resistance.

They stood there and took it.

They planned for it, they trained for weeks for this, and they did not run away as they were sprayed with the very foul-smelling liquid.

They stood there and allowed themselves to be coated, covered, with this notoriously disgusting stuff.

They blocked the machine from moving up the street, which is bordered with small businesses and small apartment buildings — and schools —  and which cuts through the heavily-populated Qalandia Refugee Camp.

And, they won a small victory on an otherwise confusing and disappointing day: the “skunk spray” machine was ordered to retreat back into the protected military zone at the terrible Qalandia Checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

It was a revolutionary change in the way checkpoint protests have been conducted until today.

Manara Youth demonstrators block the forward movement of the skunk spray machine

Photo by courtesy of the photographer Mohamed Jaradat

Another view of this Tiananmin Square moment in Qalandia

photo by Ahmad A. Mesleh on 5 June 2011
A Tiananmen Square moment in Qalandia protest 5 June 2011 - Naksa Day Photo posted on Facebook by the photographer Ahmad A. Mesleh

Paying  the price – Fadi Quran + Hurriya Ziadeh begin to get sprayed

Standing up to skunk spray - paying the price

The two photos above posted on Facebook by the photographer Ahmad A. Mesleh 

The protesters taking the full brunt of the vile-smelling “skunk spray” that they were attacked with at Qalandia on 5 June 2011

Manara Youth leaders and allies resisting "skunk spray" Photo courtesy of photographer Ahmad al-Nimer – also posted on Twitpic here.

IDF soldier sprays highly-irritating pepper spray into faces of demonstrators who refused to unblock the skunk spray machine

If skunk spray is not enough use pepper spray
Photo by Ahmad Nimer at Qalandia protest on 5 June 1967

Photo  courtesy of photographer Ahmad al-Nimer – also posted on Twitpic here

Speaking about today’s protests (held not only at Qalanadiya but also at several other places in the region, including the occupied Golan heights, where 20 Palestinian refugees and their Syrian supporters tried to cross again into Majdal Shams), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at his regular weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday: “I have instructed the security forces to act with determination, with maximum restraint, but with determination to maintain our sovereignty, our borders, our communities and our citizens.”

Later, @ANimer sent this Tweet – remarking on life in Ramallah as we all know it [no “bubble” for most people, sometimes electricity cuts, sometimes no water, and so on and so forth]  —  after this especially difficult demo:
“so i am covered with the shit water from shit canon, and i have no water in my apartment… “

UPDATE: See this in a video posted on Youtube by (and also picked up by Al-Jazeera’s website) — it’s a very good summary of some of the highlights of the day, but still misses some things:  It was, for the most part, much more congested than shown here.  There was awful traffic congestion (intermittently stopped by the action), heat, sun, infernal honking of the big horns of big trucks stuck in the traffic,  ambulance sirens shrieking as they rushed back and forth through the terrible traffic mess… And it is something to see the crowds of onlookers and casual participants run in unison, when the tear gas and skunk spray are used…

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