Two people were arrested at the Huwarra checkpoint in Nablus today, when approximately 250 Palestinians and internationals protested there as part of the Land Day actions and commemorations that are taking place throughout the West Bank and Gaza.
Whilst the demonstration was a collaborative effort between many local organisations, including local political parties; various health care committees; the union of women’s committees; Tanweer centre for cultural enlightenment; the Disabled society and representatives from the Nablus refugee camps and villages, organisers were disappointed with the turnout. “There are not many people here because they are afraid. These days…the soldiers will kill any person” said Myasser, a member of the Women’s Committee.
The demonstration to protest against the system of checkpoints that imprisons Nablus, congregated approximately 500 metres from the Huwarra checkpoint, before marching towards it, led by member of the Nablus disabled society. The march paused to witness the erection of a large billboard which read: 41 Years of Israeli Occupation; 2738 Days of Barriers and Siege; Until When? We insist on our Right of Freedom, Justice and Peace.
As the protesters approached the checkpoint, they were confronted by two Israeli army jeeps, obstructing their path. Israeli soldiers told the protesters to go back, but demonstrators responded “No! You go back!” and continued their advance.
The Israeli soldiers then began to drive their jeeps forwards, attempting to push the demonstration back, but protesters held firm. “This is a peaceful protest”, some shouted in English, whilst others yelled in Arabic “This is apartheid!”. As more soldiers and border police arrived, tear gas and sound bombs were thrown into the crowd, in an attempt to disperse it.
Two residents of Nablus were arrested, and one man injured, as police charged at the protesters, hitting demonstrators with their guns and threatening people with tear gas and sound bombs.
The crowd finally dispersed as more and more soldiers arrived, advancing upon the demonstrators, throwing numerous sound bombs, and taking up sniper positions on the embankments.
Land Day demonstrations will continue throughout the West Bank today and tomorrow, as Palestinians commemorate the deaths of six Palestinians at popular protests against land confiscation 32 years ago today.