By Arnon Regular
Five peace activists were lightly injured yesterday in clashes with the Israel Defense Forces.
The activists, members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), were demonstrating with hundreds of Palestinians from Kafr Anin and dozens of Israelis in the north of Samaria against the construction of the separation fence.
The demonstrators approached the fence from the Palestinian side, by a gate intended to enable the villagers of Anin reach their lands, which were left on the Israeli side of the fence. But the gate remained blocked. The protesters began cutting the barbed wire with fence cutters.
With this, the Border Patrol, police and IDF troops, who were waiting for the demonstrators, opened fire at them with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Five ISM activists were injured, receiving rubber bullets in their arms and legs. One was evacuated by the Palestinians to the Jenin hospital after a bullet had punctured his thigh.
Palestinian animosity to the fence has been gathering momentum in the past few days following U.S. President George Bush’s criticism of its construction. Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat yesterday slammed the fence, saying “building the fence, like Israel’s talk of removing blockades and the IDF’s withdrawal from Palestinian areas, are merely reports Sharon planted before his meeting with Bush.”
The 140-kilometer separation fence now under construction by the Defense Ministry, directly affects some 12,000 Palestinians in 15 villages. It cuts them off from their lands, their water sources, their schools and social services. In addition, the fence “annexes” some 100,000 Palestinians to Israel, trapping them between the fence and the Green Line.