Salem is a small village of about 6,000 residents that is the site of some recent Israeli construction, which tends to come with a certain amount of destruction of Palestinian property.
It started this morning, when an Israeli earth-crusher began tearing through the olive fields near the settlement road. On the opposite side of the road is the village of Dier Sharif, which recently had 85 dunams (just over 21 acres) of land seized for the expansion of the Elon Morrie settlement. Some speculate that the settlement expansion will spill over into Salem.
International Solidarity Movement volunteers gathered around the earth-crusher at around 11 a.m. to try and ascertain what exactly was happening to the land. Soldiers produced no orders and gave no information. The District Coordination Office for the area was phoned, but no one ever showed up. ISM activists and local Palestinians attempted to block the earth crusher since it was operating without orders on Palestinian land, but the attempt was stopped by soldiers.
At around 2:30, the Israeli army finally revealed what they were doing. They were preparing the land to build a wall alongside the settler road. The wall was in response to bombs dropped on the road by Palestinians, one soldier said, but he also admitted that there had been no bombs in this section of road. The wall will take four meters of land alongside the settler road and also include a watchtower and gate.
With Elon Morrie expanding across the street, this wall might be the first step into expanding the settlement into Salem village.
Salem residents plan to protest the army’s action Friday with a march to the watchtower construction site at 1 p.m.