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Palestinian Poet Darwish Celebrated in Death

Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to bid farewell Wednesday to their most famous poet and the author of their declaration of independence.

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish in an undated file photo.

Darwish was cherished in the Arab world

They lined the streets of downtown Ramallah, some of them waving Palestinian flags, as the body of Mahmoud Darwishwas driven on a military vehicle to his final resting place outside the Ramallah Cultural Palace, which is henceforth to carry his name.

Darwish died at a US hospital on Friday, Aug. 8, following open heart surgery. He was 67.

Darwish was cherished among the Arab world for his poetry and literature, and in 1988 wrote the Palestinian declaration of Independence.

21 shots from the honor guard

He had asked to be buried at the cultural center, having dedicated his life to poetry and literature. His tombstone, unveiled on a hill outside the building, overlooks the vast terrain of the West Bank and nearby Jerusalem. A Palestinian honour guard fired 21 shots into the air after his coffin was lowered into the grave.

Darwish's body was earlier flown in a Jordanian army helicopter from Amman to the Ramallah headquarters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Today we say goodbye to a star whom we loved to the point of adoration," said Abbas, who described the poet as a "hero" who had been "committed" to the Palestinian cause.

"I saw in you joy, hope and all the noble values. You were the human being among us," he told an audience of hundreds of Palestinian dignitaries and foreign diplomats inside. "You will remain with us. We tell you we will meet again and we will not say goodbye."