22 January 2010
This week’s Friday demonstration in al-Ma’asara celebrated the Palestinian Day of the Tree. Some 70 demonstrators, Palestinian, Israeli and international, marched from the centre of the village towards the route of the Apartheid fence, carrying young olive trees to be planted in the lands near the fence. Amongst the demonstrators were Palestinian Minister of Agriculture Ismail Du’eik and other officials from the Bethlehem area.
Shortly before reaching the soldiers who awaited the protest, demonstrators stopped to watch the minister plant two olive trees at the end of the built area in the village. The march then proceeded to meet with the larger than usual number of border policemen and soldiers, some of whom had taken over the rooftops of nearby houses, aiming guns at the demonstration. The minister and other demonstrators gave speeches in Arabic and Hebrew, and left two plants near the fence. The demonstration ended peacefully.
About an hour later, soldiers arrested one of the Palestinian demonstrators inside the village. The grounds for the arrest are still unclear, and the activist was released later that evening. Army jeeps patrolled the village for several hours following the arrest.