After heroic days, Palestinians have once more taught us a lesson of resistance.
School children, mothers who are heading to the market, fathers returning from work or mosques, always gathered to mourn together, to chant together and to stand in defiance of Israel's occupation forces together.
In an unwritten agreement, each one of us took his or her position as the soldiers' random firing began and as the wounded frail bodies began their often short journey between life and death. We buried the dead as we showered soldiers with rocks; we carried the wounded to nearby hospitals before the uneven battles settled, and we distributed the anti tear gas vaccine (onions) to stop the flowing tears and to resume our fight.
Although the impact of the tragedy was renewed as each new massacre took place, and as we sought to do our part and to express our humble support of our brethren who were slaughtered in some obscure village for no fault of their own, we always kept in mind that we are not as defenseless as it may seem. We felt capable to make a difference, even through symbolic yet simple statements of defiance and protest, and dare I say the whole world listened to what we had to say.
But now, browsing the Internet through the images of dead bodies, injured worshipers and beaten elders at Jerusalem's holiest site for Muslims Al Haram Al Sharif, one cannot help but feel truly helpless and greatly disabled.
How did this hidden tragedy come about? Did these innocent worshipers have to die? Why was the holy site filled with bullets and washed with blood? What other massacres is Israel planning in its never-ending siege? Does the world even understand the depth of the tragedy, and how it was much more than "clashes between Israelis and Palestinians"?
When Ariel Sharon who heads Israel's main opposition party decided to "visit" Al Haram Al Sharif, he must have known what such a visit meant to Palestinians. Though Sharon who (like every other Israeli leader) knows how to cultivate the selective nature of most Western media, proclaimed to Israeli radio that his visit was a message of peace, Palestinians needed no clarification of Sharon's peace message, as it was just another twisted interpretation of the true meaning of peace. And how could the man be trusted, when the September anniversary of the massacre of 2,750 Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982 (for which he was directly responsible) is a lingering and painful memory?
PLO top member, Faisal Husseini told reporters during Sharon's visit "he (Sharon) came bringing with him more Israeli forces than those who accompanied him when he occupied the Aqsa Mosque in 1967.)
But even such forces where little intimidating to Palestinians who hold fast to their commitment to their most sacred symbol, and who can never abandon her when she is under attack.
According to WAFA, Palestine's official news agency, one thousand Israeli soldiers failed to provide Sharon with the security he needed. WAFA said that Sharon was unable to take one step into any of the three holy mosques at Al Haram. He retreated. But for his retreat, Palestinians paid the price.
Scores of Palestinians were wounded and beaten by Israeli police on Thursday, including Faisal Husseini himself and a Palestinian Imam who leads prayers at the Aqsa Mosque. But that was not enough, as Sharon persists to leave prints of blood wherever he goes.
The next day, Friday, as thousands of Palestinians came to pray in Al Haram, Israeli military forces and police were in full gear awaiting a battle.
It's a simple right for Palestinians to express their anger against the military occupation of their mosque, it's a just human demand for worshipers to pray without being sniffed by police dogs and asked to pull their pants down to prove that the have no weapons. It's a human right. But for Israel, Palestinians are demanding too much.
After heroic days, Palestinians have once more taught us a lesson of resistance. Tens of people died and hundreds were wounded, including twenty serious cases (according to the Islamic Makasid Hospital news report) and seven who lost their eyes (according to the German hospital Mutala report). Al Haram Al Sharif is safe in the hands of her brethren, yet Palestinian wounds continue to bleed.
The massacre was not a Sharon-only massacre. It was a collective work of the Israeli government, police and army. The one thousand soldiers who accompanied Sharon in his provocative visit to Al Haram were assigned by the government, a government that is allegedly striving to achieve peace with Palestinians. Thanks to Israel, we can rest assured that Israel can never be trusted when it comes to Jerusalem's holy sites. Israel's repeated assaults at Muslim and Christian holy sites in the city is another ugly reminder of the country's strong conviction that Jerusalem is exclusively Jewish.
As human beings with conscious, we can make a difference only if we try. Yes we may be to far away to donate blood to the crowded hospitals and to carry the injured on our shoulders to safety, but we are not as defenseless and helpless as we may think.
Many charity groups are ceaselessly working in Palestine to aid the devastated families and to care for the injured and the handicapped. We can support these organizations financially, so that they may continue serving the people of Palestine. We can sponsor the orphans of those we were killed by Israel, so they will not be forced to leave school, to join Israel's cheap labor force. We can support hospitals who provide medical care for our fallen heroes. We can organize our communities wherever we are, and protest the bias of the media, the apathy of our governments, the injustice of our time.
So before you delete that photo of one more sacrificed Palestinian youth from your computer, or before you flip your newspaper to the next page, please remember that you can make a difference in these peoples' lives. You may not be able to defend the Aqsa Mosque with your bare arms as they do, but at least you can let them know that someone far away feels their pain, sympathizes with their anguish, and understands their tragedy.