Thousands of Palestinians on Tuesday streamed toward the mosque in Nablus’s Victory Square, to launch a new front in their protests against Israel and the United States.
The scene has been repeated elsewhere in the West Bank, where people have begun turning out for early prayers in unprecedented numbers.
The people were forsaking the usual protest sites where they risk arrest and channelling their anger into a mass expression of faith.
Saif Abu Baker, a restaurant owner said “this is the most peaceful way to get the message out,’’as the Nablus crowds spilled out of the mosque into surrounding alleyways and courtyards.
Political slogans including “for the sake of God, we have risen up’’ echoed through Nablus’s Old City after the calls from the muezzin and the murmured recitations of the faithful.
Abu Baker added that “i would hope that it is a new form of channelling the way the message is being sent out there.
“Because we have tried protesting and it did not work because we don’t have enough power. It’s the safer way for everyone.’’
Much of the crowd’s message at Friday’s fajr (dawn) prayers the day when most people turn out was a rejection of the perceived pro-Israel bias of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan.
There have only been small regular street rallies since that plan was launched last week. Few have responded to calls by President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority for ‘Days of Rage’.
Instead many have begun heeding calls on Facebook and other social media sites to attend what is becoming known as the ‘Great Fajr Campaign’ – described as a show of solidarity against Trump.
They see Trump plan as an Israeli threats to Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem and Hebron. Those two cities have also seen larger turnouts in the past few weeks.
The first calls for a surge in attendance were from Fatah, Abbas’s nationalist political faction that dominates the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Numbers grew after the campaign gained support from the Islamist group Hamas, which holds sway in mosques, especially in cities where it has a sizeable following.