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Roaming Jerusalem with Pride & Hope for Freedom

"I saw hundreds of people, it felt like the whole city was there"

Jerusalem24– Occupied East Jerusalem has witnessed horrific events over the last few days, from slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh’s funeral to the Nakba events over the weekend.

Dozens of Israeli police officers attacked mourners of Abu Akleh’s funeral procession, beating, kicking, and trying to prevent them from marching with the body of Abu Akleh from a hospital in occupied East Jerusalem to a church service before her burial.

Adnan Barq, Jerusalemite activist, tells us about the scenes he witnessed in Jerusalem during an interview on Vibes.

Barq, who was one of thousands to bid farewell to prominent Aljazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, tells us: “Since I am a local and familiar with the protocols, I was afraid to leave the old city to the hospital to say goodbye to Shireen, I stayed close to the church where the last prayers were to be made on Shireen ahead of her burial. When we heard of the breaking news we were shocked with the attack on Shireen’s casket”.

Barq describes as soon as news spread of the attack, an owner of a beauty salon shop near the church invited them inside to watch the events unfold, images which they described as “crazy and disturbing”. As soon as the casket arrived at the church 15 minutes later, the scenes were similar to the St. Joseph hospital scenes when Israeli police, again, attacked mourners who eventually moved the casket from the van to the church.

Israel had set a number of restrictions on the funeral of Abu Akleh, one of which was restricting the number of mourners to 50. However, outside of the church, tens of thousands were present, Barq says. “Everybody was there at the funeral, I saw hundreds of people, it felt like the whole city was there.”

 

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Jaffa Gate, which is known to have a heavy Israeli Jewish presence, saw Palestinian flags overtaking the streets: “The scenes we witnessed were incredible, seeing the tens of Palestinian flags in Omar Bin Al-Khattab square in the Jaffa gate area was impossible – but it did happen. Israeli soldiers attacked people who were holding the flags, but these people managed to hand it over to other ones to raise it, and when the second ones were being targeted the flag would be in other Palestinian hands, and we made sure the Palestine flag never came down or fell.”

Jerusalem police officers regularly confiscate Palestinian flags from protesters on the grounds under the pretext that they could lead to “a serious disturbance of the peace”, even though the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that Flying the Palestinian flag is not a criminal offense in Israel, in 2021.

“To them, our flag threatens their existence, and it only shows how fragile they are. What we understood from what happened, is that the Israeli Zionist bubble was fractured by our existence. Our march, from the Jaffa Gate area to the cemetery in West Jerusalem; where there’s no Palestinian or Arab presence, where they hear nothing about us, or they avoid knowing about us, we were there roaming Jerusalem, with our flags, our pride, our Palestinian voices, beloved Shireen, and hope for freedom,” says Barq.

Thousands took part in the funeral procession of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, on May 13, 2022.

Palestinians who took part in Abu Akleh’s funeral consider it their duty to be present, Barq explains. He adds that Shireen was everywhere Palestinians were oppressed and she told the stories of Palestinians. He asserts that the presence of tens of thousands of Palestinians wasn’t an organized call, but rather their moral compass driving them to be there.

“It felt like a couple of minutes of absolute freedom for Palestine. It felt like Palestine is free, Jerusalem is free, we were owning our streets, saying goodbye to our beloved Shireen, like she just freed us. A taste we’ve never felt before.”

After the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh, journalists and activists feel they cannot exclude the possibility of being targeted by the Israeli occupation forces. Barq says that it is scary and terrifying how Israel killed one of the most prestigious journalists, who also happens to be an American, and still has the audacity to deny their crime. “It feels like at any moment during our coverage we will be in the eye of a snipper”.

Nakba: the 74th anniversary

Activist Barq says that in Jerusalem they live the Nakba every day. He explains that Israeli authorities try to create a psychological barrier between them and the city. “They try to make us feel like the strangers in the city, rather than the Russian who just arrived and is now serving in the military, or that Jewish American who came from Texas and became a full citizen.”

“When you’re a Palestinian, you are dehumanized when you’re dead, and when you’re alive when you’re being oppressed. If we had blond hair and blue eyes, we wouldn’t be treated like that… what a terrible world we live in, and they call themselves ‘civilized’.”

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5 years of experience in the field of reporting and presenting. Currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC and Jerusalem24. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna

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