Friday, May 18, 2007
In their continuous commitment to resisting the building of the Apartheid Wall in the villages that are located south of the Holy city of Bethlehem, the local organizing committee dedicated this Friday’s action to commemorating the 59 year anniversary of the Nakbah (the Catastrophe). For almost sixty years Palestinians have been suffering not only from what the Israeli occupation has done but in deeper terms from the neglect of the international community in addressing their basic human rights.
Over one hundred Palestinians, internationals, and Israelis met this day at the location of Abu Elias’s house (a farmer who passed away as a result of a heart attack three days after he received Israeli orders that called for confiscating the biggest portion of his land for the building of the Wall). It is truly incredible to see how empowered local young leaders continue to grow in their courage and commitment to not give up in the face of growing pressure by the Israeli military to suppress any nonviolent action in this location.
As the protestors were gathering, over fifteen Israeli army jeeps came to the location filled with over 150 heavily armed Israeli soldiers, police and what is know as members of the “special intervention force.” No force big enough can suppress the dedication of those committed to a cause. The event began with a welcoming in Arabic and English that included a reminder that what we are suffering today is not a result of just the wall being built around Palestinian areas, but it is a result of how the international community has ignored and neglected the legitimate rights of the Palestinians for almost sixty years, especially the issue of the Palestinian refugees who have now had two generations born in very terrible conditions in refugee camps across the Middle East. This was followed by a call to Friday prayer where as the Muslims prayed, small groups of other faiths and spiritual believes prayed in their own way for peace and justice in this part of the world.
The prayers were followed by an attempt of the protestors to walk peacefully on the main street that connects the Southern villages together. The Israeli army response to this nonviolent attempt was brutal and extremely violent. Many were beaten up and two of the Israeli activists were arrested. It was truly incredible to see the zero tolerance that the Israeli soldiers are now being ordered to show towards any group of nonviolent protestors.
A decision was then made by the local committee to move the protest to the land where the construction of the Wall is taking place. As the protest moved down the valley and up to this location, the Israeli army had organized itself to meet us and to also prevent the nonviolent protest from taking place.
The victory for the day was in how the protestors were actually able to push the soldiers to back to an area that allowed us to organize a sit in and then the local organizers (after clearly explaining the injustice that these solders are doing in the name of their government) declared the action as over.