17 May 2011

What happened in Maroun el Rass on May 15

I've been wearing a hanzala around my neck for about 8 years now. When asked about it, I like to end my explanation with: "It became the symbol of the right to return for Palestinian refugees." Living in London and meeting people from all over the world, I got to explain my necklace so many times but I always find it weird when I have to explain it to a Lebanese. I become cynical and say something like: You know that there are Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, right?

On Sunday May 15, the day of the Nakba commemoration (some called it The Third Intifada), I really understood what it means to be a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon: to stand so close to home but never allowed an entry and to be shot at from inside and outside the border. The Palestinians are treated as second class citizen, they are considered a threat, a bunch of untrustworthy extremists, they are dehumanized because that's the only way their oppressors can justify their acts.

Of course I knew that already but for the first time in my life on Sunday 15 May, I was also terrified by the Lebanese army and that was only because I was with Palestinian refugees. This is a video that I took on the day with my phone. It starts with people running happily to the border. Some were brought back dead because they dared to throw stones over the massive fence. They were shot like birds by Israeli snipers. Snipers are the worst kind of humans. Throwing stones on the other hand is now considered a Palestinian ritual, a symbol. It started as a desperate act and still is. This is why Hanzala hides a stone behind his back.

The Israeli offense army always used the stones throwing as an excuse to carry on with their ethnic cleansing backed by mother America. I remember as a child seeing an American man on CNN holding a sign that says: "Stones can kill." I remember asking my teacher at school how can stones kill, what about tanks? He said: "Les Américains sont ridicules."

Since Sunday, debates were sparking everywhere: Could we have avoided the death of these 7 Palestinian refugees in Maroun El Rass? Why do we keep throwing stones at them if we know that they respond with bullets? Will they shoot at us no matter what we do? Are we so cheap? Do they kill Palestinians because they can or because they seriously feel threatened? What if a white man was killed by accident?

I believe that one should always reflect on how to resist and claim back his humanity and rights but I also know that throwing stones is something that Palestinians share wherever they [are forced to] live and they shouldn't accept to be denied that. I once heard in London the Israeli journalist Gideon Levy say that the unique fact about Israel is that it's an oppressing and brutal occupation but it also plays the role of the ultimate victim. That means that Israel doesn't need excuses to shoot Palestinian refugees. In fact, they are now complaining to the UN about Lebanon for not managing to protect the border properly. They probably wrote something along the line of: Tie your animals, Lebanon.

Denying Palestinian refugees to protest by the border and making them leave running up the hill crying and terrified under a non stop heavy shooting by the Lebanese army is not enough for Israel. Nothing will ever please them unless we all disappear so we might as well throw stones and keep resisting.

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