Last Friday of a group of 70 demonstrators, comprising of Palestinian, international and Israeli activists, gathered near the town of Umm Salamona, south of Bethlehem, to demonstrate against the planned route of the apartheid wall and the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) denying local Palestinian farmers access to their farmland.
The demonstration progressed along settler only Road 60 to the farmland near the Efrat settlement, which the Palestinian farmers are constantly denied access to, before being stopped by the IOF. The soldiers immediately sent for reinforcements, who soon arrived at the scene with riot shields. As a result, violence threatened to break out until the demonstrators sat down with their backs facing the IOF, diffusing tension at the scene. A series of speeches followed praising non-violent resistance and citing the success of the this approach in bringing about a court order declaring the route of the wall in Bil’in as illegal.
Under the current plan, the apartheid wall will illegally separate approximately 3,000,000 square meters of Umm Salamona’s land from its Palestinian owners, consequently destroying thousands of grape and olive trees which are vital to the livelihoods of the local farmers.