Peaceful demonstration against the illegal wall and settlements near Bethlehem
Polly Bangoriad, 27 April 2007
On Friday midday Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists held a non-violent demonstration near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, protesting against illegal Israeli settlement expansion and the Illegal Wall.
Israeli army watch over non-violent demonstration – Photo by Polly Bangoriad
Over one hundred non-violent activists gathered at the junction on route 60, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Effrat, and stood near the busy road holding large banners bearing anti-occupation slogans such as ‘Stop Bethlehem Bleeding’. A number of villages in the Bethlehem district are under dire threat from the construction of the illegal Israeli separation Wall and the expansion of settlements.
Around a dozen Israeli army and police force jeeps surrounded the area. Armed troops attempted to herd the demonstrators away from the roadside and attempted to obscure the banners by forming a human wall. However, some demonstrators climbed atop a concrete block around two meters high and waved Palestinian flags and bunches of red, white, green and black balloons.
Local Palestinians gave speeches in English and Arabic praising the demonstration and calling for non-violent resistance. After Friday prayers had been held at the roadside under the gaze of the armed troops, the demonstrators marched about 100 yards along the road towards the Palestinian village of Um Salamoneh and the illegal settlement of Efrat, chanting anti-occupation slogans. The non-violent demonstration came to an end peacefully, amongst dozens of armed Israeli troops.
As with all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Effrat was built illegally on private or publicly owned Palestinian land. The establishment and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the Wall on what is largely Palestinian agricultural land causes massive damage not only to the Palestinian economy, but restricts movement and annexes thousands of people into ghettos. Palestinian civilians in these situations are deprived of basic human rights and those who try to continue farming their land to feed their families are subjected to vicious attacks by armed illegal settlers and Israeli troops.