On Friday August 24 at 12:00pm around 40 Palestinians and 40 internationals gathered in Umm Salumuna, in the region of south Bethlehem, to protest the building of the apartheid wall. The village had been declared a military zone by the IOF, thus preventing anyone who didn’t live there from entering by road. However, this did not make it illegal to be present within the village because soldiers at the checkpoint did not present a map of the declared closed area. As a result of this restriction, the internationals and Palestinians who did not live in the village were forced to enter through grounds owned by a Palestinian from the area.
At the beginning of the demonstration the Palestinian community gathered for prayer on part of the site that had been destroyed for the building of the annexation wall. Following prayer a local religious leader called for internationals and Palestinians alike to raise their hands in supplication for the reclamation of land which is being stolen from the local landowners by the occupation forces.
Demonstrators in Umm Salamuna March Past Army Jeep
In contrast to previous occasions the protestors did not march uphill towards the line of awaiting soldiers, whose numbers had been substantially reinforced compared to last week, blocking the route to the wall of separation. Instead the non-violent demonstrators marched together past local houses, along the road used by bulldozers and other construction vehicles chanting slogans against the occupation. They proceeded along the main road where one Palestinian put an olive tree branch in between the aerial bracket and door of an IOF armored jeep, which resulted in the soldiers inside the jeep releasing two sound grenades into the crowd of demonstrators.
The first sound bomb struck an international demonstrator on the leg but thankfully caused no injury. The second, however, caused a middle aged man to collapse to the ground where he remained for a minute until he regained his composure and was able to rejoin the march with the assistance of his colleagues.
The march ended at the municipality building of Walaja, which will be demolished within several weeks. Israel will demolish the building because authorities claim the building had been built too close to the annexation wall. The non-violent resistance organizers in Umm Salumona continue to appeal for Palestinians, internationals and Israelis to support their efforts in opposing the yet unconstructed section of the apartheid wall in their region. Support for their regular Friday demonstrations would be greatly appreciated.