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The resilience of Ramallah in the midst of a silent war

By Raffaele Piccolo - posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014

As the rest of the world was indulging its thirst for world cup football, unbeknown to many, Ramallah had come under attack. Even living in Ramallah, it happened so quickly that if I had blinked, I could have missed it. Well not quite, but if it were not for the barrage of media coverage that followed, I would not have been aware of what occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning.

I awoke and went about my morning like any other. Made my way to Al-Manara, the heart of the city of Ramallah. There were people buying coffee, buying breakfast and presumably on their way to work. There was the odd council employee sweeping the street; they had made the odd pile of rubbish here and there. There were a few extra police and soldiers around the local station, they were not as jovial as usual. However all in all, there was nothing in particular that drew my attention in all this.

A little commotion on one of the roof tops caught my gaze. A few soldiers quickly assembled on the roof but nothing more became apparent at that stage. After a few unfruitful moments of trying to discover what was happening on the rooftop, I left and made my way to work. My moments of ignorance were to be dramatically turned upside hours later.


News eventually filtered in during the late morning and early afternoon. It was reported that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had firing stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets, live ammunition and tear gas as part of their advance into Al-Manara. Several houses and local stores were reported to have been broken into as part of their activities. However one really has to watch videos of the incident to truly see and understand how the normally bustling streets of Ramallah were turned into a war zone for a brief moment.

The small piles of rubbish and rock that I had seen in the morning, had a few hours earlier been scattered across the street along with spot fires. People scouring for cover. The assembly of soldiers I had witnessed on the roof top in the morning had been response to the discovery of the body of the young Palestinian man, Mahmoud Ismail Atallah. At least a 10 further Palestinians were injured in the incident. However, absent, you would not know.

The not so jovial extra police and soldiers that had been stationed at the local station had been present because not even the local Palestinian Police station had been spared from attack. However it was not the IDF, but rather local Palestinians that instigated the attack. Locals, upset that the local police had not intervened to protect them from the IDF, had surrounded the nearby station and showered it with rocks.

I came back to Ramallah in the afternoon, my work day having concluded. The streets were deserted. Shops were closed. Clearly people had been shaken by the incident. It was the first time in seven years that the IDF had taken control of Al-Manara.

However, as much as I had been ignorant to the fact that such an incident had occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning, come Monday, life on the streets had returned to normal. Shops were open, the streets were full of people moving about and negotiating the road with oncoming traffic. People had even begun to frequent the local cafes once again, joining the rest of the world to watch the football world cup. It was almost as if nothing had happened just over 24 hours earlier. Had you not been aware of the news, you would have been forgiven for thinking that nothing dramatic had occurred in Ramallah recently.

After a brief interlude of one day, life had returned to Ramallah. The people of Ramallah truly exhibiting great resilience in the face of turmoil. However should they have to?


Monday evening brings more gun fire in the distance. But the people of Ramallah remain unfazed. Al-Manara continues to bustle with people. For how much longer will this turmoil continue? For how much longer will they be required to be resilient?

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About the Author

Raffaele Piccolo is a student at the University of Adelaide. He holds an Honours Degree of Bachelor of International Studies and is currently studying towards his final year of a Bachelor of Laws. He has a keen interest in public policy and community development. In his spare time he is involved in many community organisations.

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