For the last four days the streets of Beit Hanina and Shuafat (located in East Jerusalem) were the site of ongoing clashes between the Israeli Police and Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and locals of the respective Palestinian neighbourhoods.
Now an eerie silence has taken hold.
Despite the end to the violence, the happenings of the last few days remain ever present. Rocks scattered across the roads, large bins, charred black, the remains of burnt tyres, some still smouldering rubbish and a burnt out car remain behind for the moment. They are the physical scars that these Palestinian neighbourhoods have to bear from the last four days.
Few dare to venture outside. The bus service continues to operate and the odd car can be seen moving about the place. A few people also venture outside on foot. They move about softly, careful not to disturb the silence that has gripped the air. They look around and slowly take in what has occurred on their streets over the last couple of days.
Whilst the protesters have dispersed the Israeli Police and IDF are still present. They are dotted about the place. They stop to question and search those vehicles that attempt to pass through. They remain for the day, an ever present reminder of recent events.
Amongst it all one can observe posters commemorating the life of Mohammed Abu Khdair, the young Palestinian who was abducted and murdered. The posters will remain for some time, until the weather wears them away, however this young Palestinian boy will not be forgotten. The taking of his life and the violence that ensured has left a psychological scar that will take much time to heal.
Besides the odd gunshot that can be heard in the distance, the silence remains. As the day progresses locals move about their neighbourhoods again; however they do so with trepidation. The events of the last few days remain squarely on their minds.
One imagines that the silence has brought some reprieve for the people of Beit Hanina and Shuafat.
Whilst the silence has taken hold, it is unclear if this silence will herald the coming of an enduring peace or is simply an interlude for something bigger. Some have foretold the coming of widespread violence, a third Intifada (Arabic for 'shaking off'). The likelihood of this eventuality is unknown. Much will remain unknown until those that have been arrested for the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair are placed on trial.
For the moment silence will thus remain hovering over Beit Hanina and Shuafat. However one should be careful to realise that this silence simply masks the fact that much still continues across the rest of Palestine. Bombings continue to plague Gaza and large numbers of Palestinians continue to be arrested.
For the moment it is clear that peace remains elusive in Palestine.
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