'Complicit in genocide': Palestinians protest US state secretary Blinken's visit to Ramallah
Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah protested the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met Palestinian officials as part of his Middle East tour.
The US top diplomat's visit to the region is his fourth since 7 October. The US State Department said that Blinken expressed his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state during his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The State Department also said that Blinken discussed with Abbas the means to "minimise civilian harm" in Israel's assault on Gaza and encouraged "administrative reforms" in the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority's official news agency, Wafa, said that Abbas stressed to Blinken the urgency of a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the entry of humanitarian aid.
Wafa also said that Abbas told Blinken that no Palestinians should be displaced from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank and handed him a dossier of detailed documentation of Israeli crimes against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah Lions' Square and chanted against Blinken's visit, holding signs accusing the US of supporting Israeli genocide against Palestinians.
The crowd marched towards the PA headquarters, where Blinken was scheduled to meet Abbas, before being stopped midway at a barrier of Palestinian security forces. Protesters argued with security forces, trying to walk through the barrier, before being forcibly pushed back by officers.
In the incident, Palestinian security forces arrested three Palestinians in their twenties. The arrests led to a standoff between Palestinian security forces and protesters, who demanded the release of the detainees for about thirty minutes. The three young men were eventually released.
"I came here to protest Blinken's visit and his welcoming by the PA", one of the detainees told The New Arab upon his release, asking not to be named.
"Blinken and his government are complicit in the genocide of our people in Gaza. He personally provided diplomatic and political support to the occupation state to kill thousands of our children in the past three months; he is not welcome in Palestine", said the protester.
"I saw one of the policemen pushing one of the girls protesting here, so I pushed him back, and that's when they arrested me", detailed the protester. "They dragged me to the detention van violently, and one of them beat me on my face and stomach, ripping my jacket", he said.
"I stayed in the van for about thirty minutes, then the officer in charge came and apologised to me for the behaviour of his men and then released me. I'm still very tense; I still don't know what to think about what happened", noted the protester, his voice shaking with emotion.
"Our protest today was intended to make clear that we and Palestinians in Gaza are one single people and that the crimes that Blinken has supported against Gaza are also against us", said a 26-year-old female protester who identified as a student at Birzeit University, asking not to be named.
"Blinken and the US need to understand that if they believe that our consciousness, here in the West Bank and in Ramallah especially, can be erased, that we will stand passive as they slaughter our people in Gaza, Jenin or Tulkarm, they are very mistaken", she stressed.
Palestinians have been holding marches, general strikes and sit-ins in the West Bank in support of Gaza almost daily since 7 October, often marching to Israeli checkpoints and confronting Israeli troops with stones.
Since 7 October, Israel has killed over 23.000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in its ongoing assault on the territory, displacing about 1 million of them and destroying most of the infrastructure.
Simultaneously, Israel has killed 343 Palestinians in the West Bank since 7 October, at a rate of 3 Palestinians killed per day. Israeli forces have also arrested over 5800 Palestinians from the West Bank since 7 October, raising the number of Palestinians in Israeli jails to 7,000, including more than 2,000 without charges.