International Solidarity Movement
17 May 2010
UPDATE: All eight of the activists arrested yesterday during the demonstration in Beit Jala were released last night at 11:30 p.m. Each arrestee was individually interrogated, and required to give the police his or her phone number as contact information “in case further investigation is needed”. No other conditions were stipulated.The Christian village of Beit Jala, in the Bethlehem governorate, lies next to the path of the apartheid wall at a point where it cuts deep into Palestinian territory. The objections of the villagers have been ignored and, for the past two months, a regular Sunday protest demonstration has been called at the instigation of the Beit Jala National Committee. This Sunday, May 16th, demonstrators gathered at the site where a bulldozer was clearing agricultural land for the walls’ construction a mere 30 metres from the nearest houses. The protesters’ numbers were constrained as Palestine Authority police prevented local Palestinians from joining the protest.
A core group of international and Israeli activist supporters succeeded in clambering aboard the bulldozer, forcing the clearing work to stop. When Israeli soldiers and border police arrived in numbers half an hour later the activists then sat on the ground in front of the bulldozer, linking arms with the intention of resisting their removal.After an order to leave the site had been issued and ignored the soldiers and border police then proceeded to drag the protesters forcibly over the rocky terrain towards a waiting personnel carrier. Those who chose to walk fared better than those who continued to resist – despite the threat of the use of pepper spray from close quarters. Eight young resisters, five females and three males, including two from the International Solidarity Movement and two from the Palestine Solidarity Project, were taken into police detention at the Gilo settlement.
Israel’s treatment of international activists, aid workers and human rights workers has become increasingly draconian as it attempts to stem the flow of uncensored and first-hand information which flows to the West. Quite simply, “the only democracy in the Middle East” cannot afford the truth to be told and will brook no opposition to its inhuman and illegal policies and practices.