[December 2013]

Interactive Palestinian theater or the weekly prescription of tear gas

Palestinian protester on the street:
“Why did chicken cross the road? Because it was tear-gased”

Prelude

Flying checkpoints of the IDF ring the village Kafr Qaddum.

An international journalist is refused entry, even with an Israeli press card.

Ambulance and camera crews are blocked from entering. The scene is electric, the international presence which successfully dodged the roadblock lingers around.

“I have a feeling something bad is going to happen,” says a Norwegian protester. 

The ambulance and cameras get through fifteen uneasy minutes later.

“The cavalry of the weak arrives,” laughs a Palestinian activist. 

Splinter of the group moves to the central part of the street, flanked by a hill to the west, where half of the IDF force is located. Arguing ensues over the starting point of the play. Soldiers instruct the group to move back, while the other party points to the top of the hill.

“Go where you usually are!”

Soldiers head back, so do the protesters. Original starting point is reached. IDF half way up the hill, villagers at the start of the road.

Act 1

“Allah u-akbar!”

First rock is thrown. Less than a second after the projectile leaves the hand, two tear gas canisters volley from the hill on top of the crowd.

Villagers retreat.

Soldiers advance along the main artery from the settlement in front, flanking force moves through the hills to the west. Rumours spread of a blockading force coming in from the rear. People prepare for the possibility of arrests. The army pushes through the centre, firing volleys into houses and occupying a strategic garden overlooking one of the two road branches leading to the rear of the village

Palestinians split into two groups, guided by observation from the rooftops. Direct fire at protesters, few rounds of rubber bullets.
The new IDF doctrine is not evident. Conventional tactics are used, limited or no use of gardens and other advance paths are utilized.

Advanced strategies of the IDF used in clearing the refugee camps in Gaza, which backfired in Lebanon in 2006, are not attempted in this scenario. Standard approach of movement and navigation through urban fabric is used. The show of force is featured much more strongly by occupying the main artery cutting through the village and pressing forwards. This replaces the more radical approach of the modern IDF thinking, using houses and the built environment itself as movement channels.

Strategy of avoiding arrests and intimidating the population without crossing the boundary of this interactive theatre is clear.

The army pulls back. Original position of status quo is reached.

Intermission

Act 2

Palestinians advance towards the settlement, group splits into two.

Following more rock throwing, volleys are unleashed. Four or five projectiles rain from above at a time, combined with direct fire aimed at the protesters. Foreigners are targeted.

Villagers withdraw.

Ceremonial operation of Capture the Hill takes place. Advance is held at bay by the soldiers on top of the hill.

Intermission

Act 3

Army withdraws further. Protesters advance to the end of the road. Everyone holds where the main road ends, about a 100 meters from the IDF blockade and around 200 meters from the settlement itself.

“Yallah Shabab, Yallah!”

The leader encourages further advance, no one responds. With the view of the settlement, and its everyday activities carrying on, the army advances. Soldiers from the hill flank and attempt to cut off the protesters from the south west. A massive volley of tear gas disperses the Palestinians in the back.

Remainder of the protesters cut through back alleys to the east and regroup at the southern tip of the village. Army pauses while original positions are retaken by actors on both sides.

Status quo is reached again, energy fizzles out.

The alternative movement through the built fabric is utilized by the Palestinians much more strongly. Open doors policy allows swift movement in an out, where thresholds no longer exist.

Finale and The Cliffhanger

Sprinting assault of the flanking force on the hill. Projectiles fired into the main street from the force moving in from the settlement. Children take over the skirmish. Adults sit with gas masks in one hand and cigarettes in the other, look on and laugh occasionally.

Both sides withdraw.

Palestinian protester:
“See you next Friday!"

- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
- BenGe - Benas Gerdziunas -
-
Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn share Follow