A delegation of Gush Shalom, took today (Friday, 12.11.04) part in Yasser Arafat’s funeral at the Mukata’a in Ramallah.
The delegation passed the well-organized Israeli army checkpoint in Beitunia and was conveyed from there to Ramallah in vans bearing the designation “Official Delegation”.
Masses of Palestinians beleaguered the gates of the compound and the Palestinian Police succeeded only with great difficulty to make it possible for the delegation to enter. The activists were almost crushed in the process and one of them, Yehoshua Rosin, was slightly wounded. He was promptly treated by the Red Crescent.
Because of the crowding, the delegation was soon scattered among highly emotional mourners, numbering more than a hundred thousand. Only a few of them actually made it to the graveside. Senior officials of the Palestinian Authority invited them to the first row and placed them among the ministers and religious leaders.
Delegation members wore prominent Gush Shalom stickers, consisting of the flags of Israel and Palestine. During the afternoon, hundreds of Palestinians approached the activists, shook their hands and expressed their gratitude for their coming to share their bereavement. It will be remembered that throughout the last year of his life Yasser Arafat wore the two-flag emblem of the Gush on his jacket.
The order of the funeral was shattered when the grief-stricken mourners let their emotions free reign. Thousands of rounds of ammunition were fired into the air by mourners and some people were slightly hurt by ricochets, as well as the heat and the crowding. In spite of that, the attitude towards the Israeli guest was throughout warm and cordial.
“Gush Shalom” is the only Israeli organization that published a statement expressing sorrow at the passing away of the Palestinian “Father of the Nation”.