Postcard from... Qalandia


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The Independent Online

The tips of Yasser Arafat’s whiskers look burnt to ashes, as displayed on a now soot-covered mural of the late Palestinian leader on Israel’s separation barrier in Qalandia.

It is here, at the main checkpoint separating Jerusalem from Ramallah, where last week the biggest riots in the West Bank in recent years erupted. Along with the violence came the talk of a third intifada, a violent Palestinian uprising, in reaction to the war in Gaza.

Standing on the ground strewn with fist-sized rocks, broken glass and charred roadblocks, a boy who looks no more than 8 years old holds up a plastic bottle he filled up with glass marbles, ready to throw when the riots resume.

Just a few kilometres away in central Ramallah, a person is manning a stall selling household products, his face disguised in broad daylight by a black three-hole balaclava. When asked to remove it, the plump-cheeked grin of a youngster emerges, as he mimics the action of throwing a stone.

During the previous Israel-Hamas war in November 2012, “I wasn’t this concerned,” says 17-year-old Dalal. But now she plans on attending every demonstration, even if her parents forbid her. “It will continue, and I think it’s a good thing,” she says. “When you push the people very, very much, they will explode.”

“I feel like it’s enough – I should do something,” says 18-year-old Yazan, a psychology student whose brother was hit by a rubber bullet in the riots. “I can’t just stay home and watch it all on TV.”