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Beit Jala`s Fight Against the Wall

MPT participated Sunday, 6-th of June, at a weekly demonstration in one of the oldest city in Palestine, Beit Jala. Situated only two kilometers from the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, the establishment is populated both by Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank by Israel, Beit Jala lost the majority of its land, and their olive groves. The 15, 000 dunums of land where the city was once located, has been reduced to 4,500 dunums due to massive land confiscations by the Israeli Government in order to build the settlements of Gilo, Har Gilo, and Givat Hamatos.

The demonstration started from a road which goes down to the confiscated land area, where caterpillars are working continuously during the day, to make it possible for the Israeli government to build very quickly the 12 meter high walls. The demonstrators created a coffin and a ship, using flags and flowers in the memory of those Turkish peace activists who were killed in the Gaza “Freedom Flotila”.

The marchers were stopped by soldiers of the Israel Occupation Forces, who used a barbed wire fencing and stood face-to face with the few protesters who engaged in discussion with them.
The demonstrators realized very soon they were in a Y junction, allowing them to separate in two groups: one group continued to walk up the hill on the road, the others started their way down the hill, toward the bulldozers. The soldiers shot off tear gas, but this did not stop the protesters from reaching a point on the hill where they could express their discontent with the occupation.

Most of the soldiers looked surprisingly peaceful, probably due to the small number of the participants and maybe to the “tradition” of having conversations between the protesters and the soldiers.
After fifteen-twenty minutes of conversing between the two parties, the soldiers decided they should try to force protesters from the field. With their armed presence, they pushed people uphill, to the road. One Israeli activist was arrested, who was handcuffed and taken by the army jeep.

The conduct of the Israeli Occupation Forces for that day was not as aggressive as it can be, but the demonstrators never know when harsh and dangerous actions will be taken.

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