For the first time in two months a Palestinian farmer was given permission today to visit his land at Umm-Salumona in the district of North Bethlehem. A large area of land has been annexed by the Israeli military, just below the illegal Jewish settlement of Efrata, to construct the Apartheid Wall, an act which is in violation of a recent Israeli High Court ruling which confirmed the land is Palestinian owned. Today’s demonstration was attended by almost 50 Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights activists.
The nonviolent activists initially assembled at Wadi-Nis village which is adjacent to the construction site of the wall. A member of the Holy Land Trust addressed the crowd and emphasized the discipline of nonviolence the Palestinian led resistance at Umm Salumona had used to voice their opposition to the theft of their land.
Hassan, the local grape vine farmer, whose land is literally a stone’s throw away from the Efrata settlement, invited those in attendance to dine on his grapes. The protestors marched downhill, crossing the long military and construction vehicle only road at Umm-Salumona and then climbed up towards the settlement. A barrier of soldiers met the demonstrators, who in response simply ate grapes. The soldiers, after 20 minutes gave the demonstrators an ultimatum telling them to leave the land in five minutes or be forced off it. The land owner thought it to be more beneficial to strike a deal with the soldiers, allowing him to check the rest of his land in return he assured that the other people present would leave. The Umm Salamona demonstration ended with demonstrators leaving the land peacefully, with no injuries sustained.