15 March 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
On the 14th of March 2012 two internationals from ISM went to Beit Dajan to talk about the recent upstart of demonstrations in the village.
We met with Naser Abu Jaish who is the administrative manager in the municipality. Beit Dajan is a village with about 4000 inhabitants and is situated about 10 km east of Nablus. Since the beginning of the second Intifada, there has been a roadblock put up on the main road by the Israeli military.
This has made transportation difficult for the villagers as they were forced to take a 60km “detour” to reach Nablus. With the amount of time wasted by taking a longer road, both water supply and emergency health care cannot function normally anymore. The road block has not only been a disaster in logistics and services for the village, but more importantly four people have been killed by the army when trying to use the road.
In 2005 a new road was built to Beit Furik, a village nearby which shortens the travel distance to Nablus. However, it’s still a detour which complicates the daily life for Palestinians. It was rumored that the roadblock would be removed by Israel, but four months ago it became clear that this was not the case. The citizens of Beit Dajan organized and mobilized for their first demonstration on the 7th of March. The actions were carried out in order to open the road for Palestinians again, a cause which of course is very popular in the village. Naser was very happy with the action.
“More than 500 people participated, both young and old! And we are expecting even more people this week.”
The demonstration was outspokenly non-violent and this succeeded as not one single stone was thrown. Despite of this the Israeli soldiers used tear gas against the villagers.
Naser tells us that the demonstration has been warmly welcomed by the people and that a lot of excitement and unity has come from it.
“Of course we fear that the military will use even more violence, but it will not stop us from delivering our message: That we have the right to use the road,” Naser says.
“We would like ISM to show their presence at our demonstrations every Friday along with other international observers”, Naser said with hope in his eyes and emphasis on the importance of peaceful resistance in order to regain their road.
Robin is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).