In brief Al Walaja lost it original village site and was reestablished nearby. The continuing construction of the wall will greatly reduced the village’s access to land, water, and the rest of Palestine. Al Walaja will be completely surrounded by a prison like wall with only one access road connecting them to the rest of the West Bank.
As prayers ended we walked downhill to see the construction route that has been cut through the olive groves. It was a damp day and a muddy walk. For most of the route there was no sign of the military or police
We moved onto a restricted road and were told that only cars with yellow plates (those originating in Israel) could use this road. At one point Palestinians began to place rocks on the road. The crowd’s presence slowed traffic allowing them to drive carefully around the rocks. There were no rocks thrown and no threatening gestures. Many activists were uncomfortable with the rocks on the road. Indeed they did present a considerable hazard to cars moving at normal speed. A short debate started with statements like: “This is a serious hazard; we are here to protect from violence and thus should remove the rocks.” Others said: “We are to be Palestinian led; this is their demonstration.” The discussion was friendly with most of us having very mixed feelings. As we were causing traffic to slow down there was no serious danger at the time. Within minutes one of the Palestinian leaders came over and began to kick rocks out of the road. Activists immediately began to help him. Police arrived shortly thereafter but the rocks were gone by the
The police did try to stop our movement but were greatly outnumbered. The demonstration just moved around them. They followed along behind in their jeep. We approached an entrance to a restricted area and found a line of soldiers waiting for us. After some talking and mutual picture.taking, the demonstration took a side road back to the Mosque.
No rocks thrown, no arrests, no tear gas or the like which led to a jubilant mood of having achieved some success – at least a chance to express our displeasure, have it heard and return home without injury. We were mindful that such demonstrations are a weekly occurrence in parts of Palestine. They are indeed so common that they seldom make the news anymore. But Palestinians risk arrest and injury on a regular basis to protest the injustices of the occupation.
Nicole L. Rohrkemper
International Team Deployment Coordinator
Michigan Peace Team
(586) 419-1070 (direct line)
Read more about International Teams in our most recent Teams Insider eNews.
Another informal taxi ride and a group cab got us back to Hebron for the another evening with CPT
Blog readers might wish to review the history of this situation by going to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Jarrah Or http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ir-amim/why-are-israelis-demonstr_b_445968.html
In brief, Palestinian refugees moved to this area when it was under Jordanian rule. The UN got involved and houses were built for the families. The area has been contested for years. Settlers have gained access to some houses even though complaints have been filed including one from the United States government. The above links will give the reader many more details. MPT has a history of involvement with this troubling situation.
MPT वास there in October of 2008 to provide protective accompaniment. The details can be read at http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2008/10/mpt-presence-at-al-kurds-in-east.html
MPT returned in April of 2009 after the family had been evicted. Read that report at http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2009/04/return-visit-to-sheikh-jarrah.html
MPT returned again in November of 2009 to stand watch for two nights. This team (which included one member of the current team) witnessed a police demolition of the tent site. Details can be read at http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2009/11/e-jerusalem-incomplete.html
The tent that was removed by the police in 2009 was located right outside the home that is now the center of controversy. A Palestinian family built an addition without the proper permission. The end result is that Israeli settlers now “live” in the addition while the family remains in the original house. Internationals activists try to have at least two people at the site for each night. This presence created a barrier between the settlers and the Palestinians giving the latter a bit of peace of mind and a chance for decent rest each night.
This is the view from the street. The block addition on the left is the section taken over by the settlers. The small tent is shelter for the activists staying overnight and provides a "gate" and visual privacy for the Palestinians who live in the rear of this compound.
This is the view from the back side of the tent. There is a small court yard and access to the living areas.
Readers who are really interested in this situation would do well to watch the videos in the following link. The son of the Palestinian family talks about his life. Israelis (including a middle aged army veteran) talk about their decisions to stand in support of the Palestinians.