In North Lebanon, Palestinians Celebrate Gaza Victory
By: Robert Abdallah
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012
On 21 November 2012, the night the cease-fire in Gaza was declared, the people of the Baddawi Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon did not pause for analysts to explain it. The sound of celebratory fireworks and gunfire echoed throughout the night, with nearby residents suspecting renewed clashes between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.
For the Baddawi and Nahr al-Bared camps in northern Lebanon, Palestine is alive again. Many saw the ceasefire as a victory reflecting the determination of the Palestinian armed resistance. It has allowed many in Baddawi to turn their backs on the senseless conflict that plagues the camp, while the people of Nahr al-Bared seem to have put aside the tragedy of their virtually razed camp.
Many took to the streets, singing new revolutionary songs with lyrics like, “Bomb, bomb, Tel Aviv,” and “You settler, scared and hiding in the shelter.” Dabka lines formed while Palestinian and Hezbollah flags flew side by side. Slogans like, “The age of defeat is gone, the age of victory has begun,” were broadcast via loudspeakers, with further rejoicing at the rocket strikes on Tel Aviv and settlements.
The euphoria had relatively died down the day after the ceasefire as people try to absorb what happened.
In the past, the camps’ residents had avoided the media spotlight, but now, many are eager to pose in front of any journalist’s camera. A little girl, carrying a Palestinian flag, strides in front of her father. On her forehead the words “Gaza Is Victorious” are written in the colors of the flag. As soon as she sees the cameras, she raises her fingers in a victory sign.
At Uqla café on Baddawi’s main street, crowds have gathered, some handing out free sweets to passersby. Abu-Mohammad al-Khuzai, a Palestinian from Gaza living in Baddawi, is the most interviewed man in the camp and has became something of a celebrity. He is the only camp resident who comes from Gaza, a brother and uncle to scores of martyrs who fell in the latest attack and in 2008.
As soon as you ask if anyone has any direct news from Gaza about the attack and its aftermath, Abu-Mohammad is called over. He comes with the latest news, even if he is on the other side of the camp. He says: “Yesterday, I called my brothers and their children. There is no better feeling. I heard sounds of Dabka dancing over the phone. There were celebrations in Abasan and Khuzaa.”
According to Abu-Mohammad, “The victory belongs to the whole Palestinian people. The liberation of Palestine is very close, from the West Bank and Jerusalem to the Gaza Strip.” Someone interrupts: “It is a victory for the whole Arab nation.” Abu-Mohammad responds, “Arab nation, my foot. Without Palestine, this Arab Spring is just empty rhetoric.”
Abu-Mohammad believes that despite the Egyptian government’s timid position, “All Egyptian people support the resistance.” On Lebanon, he says: “The Lebanese and Palestinian people are one. In Tripoli, I could see everyone was happy.”
Before the victory in Gaza, the role of the Palestinian organizations and factions in the camps had declined. Some offices had become more like museums, with hardly anyone looking after them. With the core cause eclipsed, their role was reduced to competing with popular committees in providing food or repairing electricity lines.
The victory in Gaza has rejuvenated these factions and organizations. Their offices now overflow with visitors. Fierce arguments take place all the time. Mobile phone screens show pictures of the falling rockets. Officials speak of the latest developments, news they claim they found out by communicating with the Palestinians “inside.”
In open derision, someone declares that the youngest fighter in Gaza is braver than most of the officials in these organizations.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.