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Hebron, Iraq Burin, Beit Ommar rise up

West Bank protests on Saturday 7 August 2010


A demonstrator holds a placard in Hebron

On Saturday August 7th Palestinians were joined by Israeli and international protesters to demonstrate against the settlements and to demand the opening of Shuhada Street. About 60 people gathered to march to the gate closing off Shuhada Street. There they were met by soldiers and border police, but no arrests or injuries were made. The demonstration lasted for about one hour. After the demonstration 6 soldiers chased three boys around the age of 10, accusing them of throwing stones, but the boys managed to escape.

The demonstration went to the gate that closes off Shuhada Street, and while some people were playing drums and other instruments, others were clapping and shouting slogans. Some were carrying posters, bearing the words of President Obama regarding Palestine, in order to remind the world that he has not backed up words with actions. Hebron is still suffering from settlements, and nothing is being done to restore Palestinian access to streets and areas that belong to them., besides their owb peaceful resistance efforts.

The demonstration continued through the old city, and went on to another blocked entrance to Shuhada Street. One Israeli settler was seen on Shuhada Street, obviously trying to be provocative, and some people turned their backs on him, while showing the peace sign towards the blockade. After a few minutes the Israeli army arrived, rushed through the concrete blocks, and started to push people backwards. The protestors moved down where they came from, and marched together to the starting point of the demonstration.

Protests in Hebron

Protests in Hebron

After most people had dispersed following the protest, six soldiers entered a Palestinian house near where the demonstration started. After about 15 minutes the soldiers then came down the street, and one of them raised his gun, pointing it at three boys around the age of ten standing further up the road. People around warned the boys, and they managed to run away. Then the six soldiers ran after them up the street and some hundred meters further, before returning. One soldier asked a Palestinian to bring the boys to him, and accused them of throwing stones after the demonstration. The Palestinian did not oblige them, and the boys managed to escape from what could have potentially been an attempted arrest or military violence.

Iraq Burin

Protests in Iraq Burin

Protests in Iraq Burin

This Saturday, July 7, around thirty Palestinians and two internationals marched through the hilltop village of Iraq Burin to protest against the illegal confiscation of 100 dunams of land by the nearby settlement of Berakha. The soldiers responded rapidly to the protesters’ presence by shooting aluminum tear gas canisters – illegally – at body height and shooting three live bullets.  Some of the Palestinian youth at the demonstration threw stones symbolically but were forced to flee by the overwhelming use of tear gas as a weapon by the Israeli army.  Four young men from the village were arrested prior to the demonstration when trying to enter the village through a checkpoint that is imposed every Saturday to prevent media and international access to the protest.

Soldiers at this checkpoint, which was established three months ago, declare the village a “closed military area” each Saturday and subsequently few people from outside the village are able to attend and document the disproportionate and illegal methods of the army, keeping the struggle in Iraq Burin behind closed doors. Residents are frequently arrested and detained for days at a time simply for entering their own village; this week Imad Moussar (age 25), Amid Ibrahim (15), Adham Kamal (12) and Ala Vibhi (22) were arrested and unable to attend the demonstration, we await news of their release.  On the 20th of March this year soldiers entered the village after a demonstration, shot two young boys: Mohammed Ibrahim Qaddous, 16, was killed immediately, and Ussayed Jamal Abd elNasser, 17, was critically injured and later died. Israeli soldiers still enter the village occasionally causing a great amount of tension and fear at the prospect of more shootings.

Protests in Iraq Burin

Protests in Iraq Burin

During the demonstration a small group of soldiers reacted to the approach of around thirty demonstrators, some throwing stones.  Tens of tear gas canisters were shot along a flat trajectory aiming at individuals, including the international activists who were present. No one was seriously injured although one young man was hit on the arm by a metal tear gas canister.  Many children, who were present at what was intended to be a peaceful demonstration, hid behind trees.  Border police later arrived and shot 5 or 6 tear gas canisters successively, forcing the protesters to retreat.

Beit Ommar:

Around fifty 50 Palestinian, international and Israeli activists protested in Beit Ummar on Saturday, August 7. They moved towards the Karmei Tsur settlement via land that has recently been confiscated by the Israeli army following a new order from the District Commander. Ten dunams of Palestinian agricultural land, declared ‘off-limits’ to its owners, will presumably be annexed to the settlement.

A large group of Israeli soldiers blocked the protesters’ way in the fields, before they reached the perimeter fence. The army attacked with sound bombs and tear gas, including directly at protesters and apparently once again targeting members of the press. One journalist collapsed, unable to breathe after inhaling a lot of tear gas. An international activist was also wounded when a sound grenade exploded on her ankle. In Beit Ommar, the army seems determined to use sound grenades as projectile weapons, throwing them directly at anyone and everyone present – but this tactic has not prevented protests or media coverage.