July, 25, 2009—Three MPTers joined Palestinian, Israeli and international activists on Saturday for a demonstration in the village of Kafr al Labad, which is 11 kilometers east of the West Bank city of Tulkarm. The village is located in between the Israeli settlements of Avne Hefez and Enav, each of which includes an illegal outpost.
The protesters gathered in the village and then took buses out into the Palestinian farming fields. Once in the fields, they marched with Palestinian flags to the site of a recently erected illegal outpost on Palestinian land. The outpost consists of three tents which were set up 3 weeks prior to the demonstration. MPT was told by a Tulkarm resident that it is mostly children that reside in the tents because the Israeli military cannot arrest them. This was evident to MPT because for the majority of the protest four settler children along with one adult male harassed demonstrators with the children advancing on the protesters and the man remaining back toward the tents. Also, during the protest the adult settler motioned for more settlers to join him and eventually 20 to 25 settlers, the majority of which were children, joined him on the hill.
The settlers came out of the tents to yell at demonstrators, some of them holding bats
2 of the 3 tents set up by settlers on Palestinians land
Soldier with bat
More settlers join
Demonstrators were also met by the Israeli military once they arrived near the outpost. Speeches were given by activists, including one by a man who had served in the Israeli army but had subsequently joined the organization Combatants for Peace. As a symbolic act of resistance, Palestinians constructed a tent on their own land. However, Israeli soldiers aggressively tore down the tent and attempted to confiscate the tent poles. Israeli activists took the poles away from the soldiers and interpositioned themselves between the soldiers and Palestinians.
(click to enlarge)
Two Palestinian boys talk to an Israeli soldier raising their hands to show they come in peace
In all, there were about 300 demonstrators present. The Israeli activists tried twice more to erect the tent which was draped in Palestinian colored cloth, however the military threw sound bombs in the middle of the tent and protesters each time. After throwing the sound bombs, soldiers stormed the tent and ripped apart the pieces. Protesters remained peaceful in spite of the military violence and settler harassment.
As the demonstration wound down, many settler children approached and threw stones at them. No stones were thrown in response from the demonstrators, however the protesters remained for a time in order to show that they were undeterred by the settler violence.
One settler man who had been told by the army to back away from demonstrators, snuck around in back of the soldiers and made his way closer to the protesters. MPT noticed that the man continued to harass the demonstrators by making inappropriate gestures. He then moved much closer to protesters, with one hand holding something behind his back. When the soldiers noticed him, they ran towards him at which point the man pulled a hand gun from behind his back holding it to two soldiers’ heads. The demonstrators, who were already on their way back, continued to leave as the soldiers confronted the man.
This was the first time the army told this Settler man to move back
No arrests or serious injuries occurred during the protest.