FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This Friday villagers from South Bethlehem will hold a cultural festival on their land which is being confiscated for the annexation barrier. Villagers will march from Umm Salamuna village mosque after midday prayers to this confiscated agricultural land. In a celebration of Palestinian culture local children will sing, dance and recite poetry.
Last week work restarted on the annexation wall in South Bethlehem after an Israeli Court lifted an order freezing work, even though a court case about the route of the wall in this area is pending. Without giving villagers any map showing the land to be razed and annexed, part of Umm Salamuna’s agricultural land has already been razed. Last week soldiers and surveyors marked out the wall route in the village’s vineyards and olive groves, and today diggers and bulldozers started razing this land.
Israeli authorities plan to annex 700 and raze 270 dunums of agricultural land with olive trees and grape vines in Umm Salamuna. Confiscation orders have also been issued against neighbouring villages, which have already lost much of their land to the Efrat settlement, part of the ever expanding Etzion block.
The villagers have vowed to defend their land with all the strength they have and appeal for international solidarity. According to Village Council President Mahmoud Rashid, “it constitutes their only source of livelihood, and no one will accept that the Wall is on their land isolating hundreds of dunams from each farmer and outright destroying at least a 200-meter wide strip of land”.
Mahmoud Zawahira, Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements, Umm Salamuna