51. Burial of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah - November 12th, 2004
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Photographer Skip Schiel from the United States took the photos which appear in this collection as well as most of the ones which appear in the previous collection dealing with some of the events before and on the day of Yasser Arafat's death. He shared these thoughts:
At times, I find making photos difficult during the tumult here. (I always find making the truly exceptional photograph most difficult.) At the presidential compound of Yasser Arafat, waiting for the body to arrive, the crowd was immense and some seemed frenetic. I resisted diving too deeply into the
throng, not wishing to be crushed. Later, after the body had arrived, I entered the compound, noticing how to get out in an emergency. Men began firing rifles into the air, seemingly a custom here, and this unnerved me. Not only because people could be hit, but the act seems so futile. (I learned later that the firing caused causalities, though none were serious.) But I photographed until tired, until the action and the photo possibilities grew limited.
People often noticed me with my cameras, but they were generally very friendly. Rarely do people refuse to be photographed. Indeed, young men often ask me to photograph them. I do, expecting a posed picture that often looks silly, but it is my entrée into further photography of them.
I vary my approach, sometimes straight on, sometimes hip pocket, i.e., snuck, sometimes going purely for the light, sometimes thinking about coverage, many times simply to play. I am always grateful for the opportunity to be plying my craft at moments like this.
Next steps for the Palestinian people? Does the lack of crowd control at the burial predict anything for the future? Or the waves of cheers that went up with the most intense of the automatic weapon firing? Will the folks prevail who are arguing that Arafat was poisoned, despite the vociferous denial by French doctors who examined the body? Or might the region experience an opening jarred by this most unexpected death?
I hesitate to even make an initial guess.
A Palestinian security officer sitting on a wall at the Muqata as the crowd swells.
A Palestinian woman waiting for Yasser Arafat to complete his final voyage, returning to the place where he had been under virtual house arrest for the last three years.
A huge crowd gathered at the Muqata in Ramallah to pay their last respects to Yasser Arafat.
A man holds a black flag at the Muqata in Ramallah, waiting for the arrival of Yasser Arafat's remains for burial after his funeral in Cairo.
A man places a portrait of Yasser Arafat on the hood of a car.
A young Palestinian boy, wearing the kafiya made a worldwide symbol by Yasser Arafat, rides his father's shoulders near the Muqata.
On the day that Yasser Arafat was buried in Ramallah, the familiar kafiya, being worn by this man around his shoulders, was prevalent.
Palestinian security tries to keep the crowd back in Ramallah.
Palestinians gathered in Ramallah, where Yasser Arafat was laid to rest. The hope among Palestinians is that this will not be his final resting place and that he will eventually be re-buried in East Jerusalem when it is the capital of an independent Palestinian state. Dirt from the grounds around the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was used in the burial as a symbolic gesture.
Palestinians in Ramallah wait as helicopters begin to arrive from the funeral of Yasser Arafat in Cairo.
Palestinians sit on one of the structures in the Muqata destroyed during the last Israeli incursion. A huge portrait of Yasser Arafat hangs from the building.
Palestinians waiting to pay final respects to their fallen leader, waving the national flag.
Portraits of Yasser Arafat are plastered on a wall in Ramallah as men sit atop it.
Somber expressions were prevalent on this day in Ramallah.
The crowd looks overhead as the helicopters carrying the body of Yasser Arafat and the dignitaries who attended his funeral in Cairo begin to touch down at the Muqata in Ramallah.