“I was really optimistic about this; it had 150,000 likes on Facebook. I figured at least a thousand would be from Nablus.”
“Come on Ibrahim, let’s go back to the office.”
They trudged off, leaving behind them about 200 flag waving youths. Chanting for unity; calling for change.
“Hey Abbas, Hey Hanniyeh, we want unity!”
“The people want the division to end”
“We are one til we die.”
Ramallah, Bethlehem and Gaza City reported attendances of thousands at the country-wide unity protests. Nablus, despite being the biggest of the main cities, saw much less.
Matching the protestors with their numbers were the spectators. Not a part of the protests but not dismissing them either.
Large groups of older Palestinians skirting around the edges, remembering when they were the organizing forces behind these gatherings.
“How can we know what they’re going to say? They could end up getting us arrested.”
“Everyone knows Hamas and Fatah will never agree. This is a matter for the internal security forces.”
“There’s nobody here. If we’ve got nobody, imagine the other cities. What a waste of time.”
Based on Twitter and various news websites, it seems the rest of the West Bank and Gaza have been swept up in the fervor of this call to re-unify Palestine.
The domino effect of the Arab protests and the Palestine Papers have not lit a fire under Nablus. Its punishment during the second intifada was severe and Fatah’s continued crackdown on Hamas supporters remains a constant threat.
Many are in Palestinian jails simply for being suspected of having Hamas sympathies. Their holding requires neither proof nor an expected date of release.
For the rest of Palestine, March 15 was a day of self expression. A day to call out to their brothers on the opposite side of the country and say 'Hey, I remember you. I think about you. I am with you.'
For Nablus, it was just another Tuesday.