29th June 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil team | Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine
Today, Saturday 29th June, a group of Palestinian activists demanded access to the occupied city of Jerusalem through the gate in the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem. Their nonviolent demonstration also aimed to highlight Palestinian opposition to the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit, but was met with violence from the Israeli occupation military. The Apartheid Wall gate was closed in the face of the protesters, shutting them out of their illegally occupied land.
At around 11am Palestinian activists, accompanied by international demonstrators, walked towards the checkpoint in the Apartheid Wall towards Jerusalem. Access is granted by the Israeli occupation authorities for very few Palestinians –people between the ages of 18-45 are routinely denied permits. The Palestinian demonstrators demanded right of entry to their capital city, Jerusalem. Israeli occupation military immediately reacted violently at the checkpoint, pushing and shoving non-violent protesters. One demonstrator was pushed aggressively to the ground by a heavily armed Israeli soldier.
Around twenty soldiers were involved in suppressing the peaceful demonstration, and after around ten minutes of harassment of the Palestinian protesters, they closed the Apartheid Wall gate. This is the second attempt in two weeks of Palestinians to cross into occupied Jerusalem. They vow to continue to demand an end to the restriction of movement imposed on the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation.
Protesters held signs saying “Kerry go home” and slogans about apartheid. US Secretary of State John Kerry was permitted to enter occupied Jerusalem two days ago on Thursday 27th June, where he met Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His meeting with the Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas was forced to take place in Amman, Jordan rather than occupied Jerusalem. Kerry is advocating “peace talks”, but has not taken strong action against the Israeli obstacles to peace which include denying the right of return of the Palestinian refugees and increasing illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem; as Kerry arrived into the Middle East, Netanyahu approved yet another settlement expansion into East Jerusalem. Further, the US continues to fund the Israeli occupation government and military operations to the tune of over $3 billion a year.
The Palestinians will continue to knock on the gates of Jerusalem to highlight the injustices of the Israeli occupation.