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"Where is the Law?" Demonstration at Al-Ma'asara

On Friday, June 27, 2008, MPT joined the demonstration against the apartheid wall in Al-Ma’asara in the Bethlehem District. Twenty Israeli activists and internationals accompanied about forty Palestinians. Together they processed to a barbed wire barrier across a main road for the weekly nonviolent protest. A small group of young boys carrying the Palestine flag led the procession.

Once the demonstrators reached the barrier, chants rang through the crowd saying “no to the wall” and calling for justice. Armed Israeli soldiers and two police officers stood on the other side of the barrier. This week, a gap between the edge of the barbed wire fence and the nearest permanent structure was blocked with pallets of stone tiles. The Palestinians decided to attempt to go over the stone tiles and onto the other side.

The organizer of the protest stood on top of the stone tiles and in English began calling out, “You are a police officer, where is the law? Show me the law.” He voiced his hopes for peace and his commitment to nonviolence, offering an invitation for the soldiers to join him in nonviolently seeking peace. His words were sincere and moving, hopefully touching the hearts of the soldiers at least a little bit. He certainly touched the hearts of the MPTers.

At one point, the soldiers pulled an Israeli activist out of the frontline group, grabbed him by the throat, and threw him to the ground. Internationals grabbed onto him so that the soldiers could not take him. The soldiers began punching, hitting, and kicking in order to separate them. The soldiers were able to handcuff the Israeli and pull him away. They dragged him by his neck and hit him in the back with their rifles. He screamed out in agony.

The protesters went back to the other side of the barrier and sat down, showing their commitment to nonviolence and their desire for the Israeli’s release. The soldiers argued that they were going to charge the Israeli protester with assaulting a soldier. They also had to call a medic because the Israeli was badly injured. Video footage of the protest taken by internationals proved that the young activist had not assaulted a soldier or been violent in any way. Soon after the soldiers learned this, they released the Israeli. He was taken to a hospital, where it was confirmed that he had a badly bruised rib.

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