1 and 2 October 2010 | ISM Media
On Friday afternoon, around 50 protesters, including some 10 international and Israeli activists, gathered in the village of Al-Ma’sara, near Bethlehem, to demonstrate against the theft of village land by the Gush Etzion settlement block. The protest was also a commemoration of both International Peace Day and the 10th anniversary of the Second Intifada. Soldiers and border police met the demonstrators with a cord laid across the road, saying that if the protest crossed the line, the demonstration would be forcefully ended. Continuing to chant, the peaceful demonstration proceeded forward and was met with a barrage of sound grenades and tear gas thrown by the soldiers.
After an hour and a half of intermittent assaults by the army and following speeches made by local protesters, the soldiers and border police left the area. Subsequently, two clowns from the ‘Boomchucka Circus’, a group from England, joined the villagers and supporters. They performed for the children there for about 15 minutes before the army jeeps returned, throwing and shooting tear gas at the group gathered around the clowns, scattering the crowd back towards the village.
Many suffered from severe tear gas inhalation, particularly when it was fired into yards and alleyways between homes, but fortunately, there were no serious injuries or arrests, despite the soldiers’ heightened aggression this week.
The village of Al Ma’asara has been holding weekly non-violent demonstrations since November 2006.
Ni’lin’s regular friday demonstration was quickly shut down by the Israeli military this week. Around 30 Palestinian, Israeli and international activists gathered under the olive trees just outside the village and, after the noonday prayer, marched through the village’s land towards the Apartheid Wall.
Many demonstrators wore hats demanding the release of Ni’lin’s political prisoners and carried Palestinian flags.
In protest against the illegal settlements that have already stolen most of their land and that prevent them from farming what little is left, some youths from the village started to throw stones against the Apartheid Wall. Soldiers soon responded with tear gas and came through the gate in the wall in pursuit of demonstrators, who retreated towards the village. The demo finished around 2pm.
The weekly Saturday protest in Hebron was moved to another location on Saturday, because the Israeli military threatened to close down shops in the Old City if the non-violent demonstrations continued at Bab Al Baladiyye. At approximately 3.00 pm a bus full of local Palestinian, international, and Israeli activists drove to the checkpoint close to the Al Ibrahimiyye School.
As expected this change caught the Israeli Occupation Forces by surprise. However, drumming and chanting soon attracted their attention and a large contingent of heavily armed soldiers and jeeps assembled to confront the protestors. After a short period of singing and chanting the soldiers declared the area a ‘Closed Military Zone’ and proceeded to aggressively push the demonstrators away from the illegal closure barrier and back up the street. Fortunately nobody was hurt or arrested.
Youth Against Settlements organise weekly demonstrations in the occupied Old City of Hebron, supported by Israeli and international activists. The protests have been met with intimidatory tactics from the Israeli army, such as the closure of several shops, arrests and legal prosecution of activists on fabricated charges and extreme brutality in repressing demonstrations.
The weekly Beit Ommar protest took place today at around 1 PM on Saturday. About 50 Palestinian, international, and Israeli activists took part in the demonstration. It began with a mock burning of settlements made out of cardboard boxes. Protestors chanted and shouted in condemnation of the illegal military occupation and the ongoing theft of village land and water by the large nearby settlement, Karmei Tzur.
After the soldiers forcefully pushed the Palestinians off their own land, they fired tear gas and sound bombs directly at the crowd, sometimes shooting tear gas canisters off into the village. Official press photographers and film teams were also physically pushed and shoved as they attempted to interview members of the Popular Committee and document the civil rights violations of the heavily armed Israeli Occupation Army.