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New Year in al-Ma’asara marked with another weekly demonstration against the Apartheid Wall

Al-Ma’asara Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements

1 January 2010

Over 150 local activists protested today in al-Ma’asara and the neighboring villages against the construction of the illegal Apartheid Wall and settlements on the lands of the nine intertwined villages to the South of Bethlehem. Protestors walked through the villages towards the construction site of the wall, but as every Friday for the past few years, they were intercepted by dozens of soldiers who had again cut off the main road with a barb wire fence.

Protestors waved flags and chanted slogans through a mobile sound system, while some accompanied the demonstration on horses in an expression of pride of the ongoing popular resistance in the face of increasing crack downs.

Women from the villages held posters of their imprisoned sons and detained activist from the Bethlehem district and lead in chants demanding the release of all political prisoners. Senior Palestinian officials, including Minister Maher Ghneim, gave speeches expressing their support for the Popular Committees commitment to resisting Israels colonial policies and its success in mobilizing continuous support from local, international, and Israeli activists.

Todays demonstration, which commemorated the foundation of the Fatah movement, comes following threats issued two days ago to the Popular Committee warning that its members would be blacklisted and arrested if the protests in al-Ma’asara continued in 2010. Therefore, the soldiers, who had taken position behind the barb wire, appeared more tense than usual. One soldier repeatedly aimed his weapon at the protestors from a hill overlooking the street. At one point, soldiers pushed into the crowd, when children attempted to remove the barb wire.

As the aggression increased, the Israeli army fired tear gas and sound bombs at the crowd and five military vehicles entered deep into the village of al-Ma’asara. Soldiers continued to shoot teargas for an hour and remained at the entrance of the village until 15pm.

One child was hit by a sound bomb and had to be carried away while soldiers were still shooting. Several protestors suffered gas inhalation, and other injuries were reported.