Protests at the separation wall in Bethlehem are so normal they're not even news. Clashes that bring out volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets aren't covered. Cars swerve around burning tires, honk at the military and protesters alike, squealing their tires to get on with their evening commute as if they're navigating nothing more than a series of cones.
One subject was active more than any other tonight. Two days ago 19 year old Jihad Shehada al-Jaafari was killed about a mile away in Deheisha refugee camp and many of these teens knew him personally. There is little accountability for killings during security operations, so they are nearly as normal as the futile resistance that follows. Refugee Palestinian teenagers burn tires and throw rocks at the 30 foot tall concrete wall. Uniformed Israeli teenagers blast them back with tear gas and rubber bullets. The former push forward again, and the latter double down with their state funded war toys. It's one step forward, two steps back for the protesters until everyone is sick of being gassed (in this case, the volley that had the ambulance drivers hacking ended up being one of the last).
Is there hope? For Palestinians to be out there repeatedly despite the stakes, knowing they may be killed, knowing they may be arrested–sometimes it looks like spirit, and sometimes it feels more like nihilism.
If you're reading about three hours after this post, think about the soldiers currently creeping into Deheisha, Aida, and Aza camps. If things go smoothly, children as young as 12 will wake to foreigners in their rooms ready to take them. Maybe there's a hiccough, maybe a soldier on the roof shoots another teen in the head. No matter what, they'll be out again tomorrow and defense contractor investors of the US and Israel couldn't be happier.
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