Photostory: Ramallah reacts to news of Arafat’s death

Today Ramallah awoke to news of Palestinain President Yasser Arafat’s death in France. People began assembling around 7:00 a.m. Ramallah time in the Manara Square city center, as well as the Muqata’a, Yasser Arafat’s headquarters, where this photo was taken.

Journalists were omnipresent at the Muqata’a, where several camerapersons took pictures of this crying Palestinian man, being comforted by a Palestinian Authority officer.

After this image was taken, the pictured man kissed the poster of Arafat he was attempting to tie to the tree. He was unsuccessful, and the poster fell to the ground. Shortly after he walked away, a youth in a car picked up the poster from the ground.

A taxi with a poster of Arafat on its hood drives through the Qalandiya checkpoint today. While Palestinian businesses will close for the next three days in observance of Arafat’s death, the Israeli occupation will continue unabated.

A young man climbs the public address tower in the middle of Manara Square and chants celebrations of the deceased Yasser Arafat.

A journalist takes a close-up picture of a mourning Palestinian boy in Manara Square.

Palestinians have been frustrated in recent days by the lack of specific information on Arafat’s condition coming from Paris.

Dejected men sit in Manara Square, reading special edition newspapers on Arafat’s passing. Though Ramallah had been anticipating Arafat’s death, the news is still difficult to process.

Within a few hours of Yasser Arafat’s death, Manara Square was filled with Palestinians mourning their president’s passing. The merchants and shoppers who usually populate the square were replaced by emotive demonstrators.

Whether or not Palestinians loved or were critical of Yasser Arafat, he is a symbol of their national identity, and there is little doubt as to the importance of his efforts to get Palestinians on the political map during the 1960s and onward. Most Palestinians alive today have known no other national leader than Yasser Arafat.

Fatah (Yasser Arafat’s political party) demonstrators march through Manara Square, while gunshots are fired out of passing cars.

Today U.S. President Bush said upon news of Arafat’s death, “For the Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors.” However, peace will not magically come to the Palestinians. Palestinians like this boy who lives in the Qalandiya refugee camp cannot wait for peace to come to them. Peace must be actively sought out, especially by Israel and the U.S., which are the powerful parties in this conflict, as well as by the new Palestinian leadership.

Maureen Clare Murphy, currently living and working in Ramallah, is Arts, Music, and Culture Editor for The Electronic Intifada

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