Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yasser Arafat 1929 - 2004

Kristen Ess – Palestine News Network
Tuesday November 11, 2008

Four years ago today Yasser Arafat died in France after taking ill in Ramallah. He was airlifted from the Muqata never to return. The image of the great man turned slight by poison or too many years under siege indoors, whatever it was that eventually killed him, that photo is forever etched in the mind. Abu Ammar waving goodbye.

Talking to people today and yesterday, it seems that there is no one who does not remember where he was four years ago, and where he was days later when the national hero’s body was returned to the soil of Palestine.

The funeral in the Muqata was more packed than any event has ever been in this country. Security staff could not get the doors of the helicopter open because of the crowds. People openly wept, the covers of newspapers and magazines were black.

It was the end of Ramadan and fasting was harder that day. Hundreds of thousands of people in mourning and no one smoked.

Abu Ammar is buried in a flower-laden tomb in Ramallah although he was supposed to be laid to rest in the eternal Palestinian capital Jerusalem. The Israeli administration, the occupying authority, would not allow it. After already being held under siege in the Muqata for years, he was not allowed to spend eternity outside of it.

His chair was saved in Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity on Christmas eve, his photo and a kafia, until recently. The Muqata may have tried to put a new face on the Palestinian Authority, but no one can forget the unifying leader who was Abu Ammar. 1929 – 2004.

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