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Over 500 villagers of Jayyus and internationals destroy part of the apartheid Wall surrounding the village

On Friday 21 November over 500 villagers from Jayyus and international activists gathered to take part in a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid Wall that for 6 years has separated them from their land and vital olive crop. Villagers destroyed sections of the Wall, sparking confrontations with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and the invasion of the village.

Following the Friday prayer, more than 500 protesters advanced on the Wall’s gate in the south of the village. The IOF was not present, and villagers proceeded to destroy the gate and the surrounding Wall and enter their lands.

Occupation forces arrived on the scene after the Wall was destroyed, firing on the crowd with tear gas and sound bombs as well as rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Upon pushing the villagers away from the Wall, the army forced its way into the village, where the demonstration continued in the village. Jeeps entered from all directions and imposed a curfew on the village. Soldiers attacked protesters in the streets openly defying the military orders.

Upon leaving the village two members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Waleed A’saf and Tayseer Khalid, were detained and later released. Five internationals were also detained and later questioned at Ariel police station and released without charge. The IOF continued to maintain a strong presence in the village into the evening, undertaking house-to-house searches targeting the village youth.

In 2002 Israel began construction of the Wall that now separates the village from its agricultural land. In July 2008 Israel agreed to change the route of the Apartheid Wall near Jayyus village by replacing a 2.4km stretch with 4.9km of Wall closer to the Green Line (approximately 4km inside the West Bank).

The change in the route of the Apartheid Wall will return 2,609 dunums (out of almost 9,000 dunums) of agricultural land to its Palestinian owners, while 5,585 dunums will be confiscated once and for all and will be used for Zufim settlement expansion plans. A further 277 dunums of land will be destroyed for the new path of the Wall. Farmers will be completely cut off from their lands that are on the other side of the Wall as the gates in this section of the Wall will be completely closed. The IOF have already uprooted 200 olive trees along the planned route.

Villagers are determined to continue with weekly demonstrations. Mohammed Abu Eliees of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in the West Bank stated “it seems our battle is long” and restated the ruling by the International Court of Justice that the “Wall must be demolished. The Wall is illegal as it is on occupied Palestinian land”. The rerouting does little to reverse the devastation brought on by more than 20 years of settlement activity on village land and is merely an attempt to deflect criticism away from Occupation policy and practice.