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Al-Ma’asara village continues demonstrations despite increased army repression

On the 8th of May, 2009, residents of the southern West Bank village of  Al-Ma’asara conducted their weekly demonstration against Israel’s annexation barrier, despite increased repression from Israeli forces.  At last week’s demonstration, five nonviolent Palestinian organizers were arrested, and they continue to be held in an Israeli prison.  This Friday, Israeli soldiers created at least three flying checkpoints on the roads leading to the village in an attempt to stop participants from reaching the demonstration.  Soldiers turned back all Palestinian cars and only allowed settler vehicles to pass.  Five military jeeps and two police cars were also stationed at the entrance to Al-Ma’asara, much further into the village than during past Friday demonstrations.  Israeli and international solidarity activists who were able to reach the village by going around the checkpoints were showed papers that declared the entire village a closed military zone.

Despite this repression, at around 1:15pm nearly fifty Palestinian demonstrators marched from the village towards the army.  The villagers stopped in front of the soldiers waving Palestinian flags and chanting against the occupation.  Approximately twenty Israeli and international solidarity activists gathered on the other side of the soldiers, but were prevented from joining the main demonstration.  Two Israeli solidarity activists were handcuffed and detained in military jeeps after sitting down and refusing to leave when ordered by the army.

After about 45 minutes the demonstration ended and the detained activists were released.  Villagers continue to demand that the five arrested Palestinian organizers be released without charge or trial.