Two Israeli solidarity activists arrested on Nakba commemoration day
by the ISM Media Crew, 18 May 2007
On May 18 2007, a demonstration commemorating the Nakba (the “Catastrophe,” when Israel forcibly displaced three quarters of a million Palestinians from their homes, massacred civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages) took place in the village of Um Salamuna near Bethlehem. Around 100 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals gathered for prayers near the settlement road cutting the village off from its land. The army, border police and riot unit showed up with around eleven jeeps and 60 well-armed men. The aim of the demonstration was to cross the settler road and reach the village’s land in a show of peaceful defiance against the many years of occupation and oppression.
Following speeches from Palestinian villagers and members of the public, in which they detailed their wishes for peace and justice for their people, we all started walking the short distance to the gate between the village and the road.
Basha, a Palestinian demonstrator, said, “We were stopped almost immediately by the special riot unit, who pushed us back with much force. Two Israelis were arrested for “violating” the closed military zone order that had been imposed. Much violence ensued on the part of the riot unit.”
Two flying checkpoints were setup on the main road and the entrance of village stopping Palestinian vehicles and the residents of the nearby villages of Umm Salamuna to join their right to protest against the occupation and the thief of the their land. A group of Palestinians walked down the hill around the checkpoint to reach the demonstration.
The Palestinian leaders of the demonstration decided that we were to turn our backs on the soldiers and march along the route of the wall back to the village. A number of people spontaneously began to destroy the infrastructure of the wall, in order to make it more difficult for the Israeli authorities to complete their work. Once again, we were confronted by a line of many soldiers. A short and rather peaceful confrontation ensued and the demonstration was then ended by the Palestinian organizers.
One organizer of the event said, “the demonstration was a great success: we managed to get our message across. We were there to defy the Occupation and we did so.”
Palestinians will again be joined next Friday by Israeli and international solidarity activists.