Friday June 22, 2007
Twenty trees… that was all… the goal was to plant twenty olive trees on a small piece of property that was being illegally confiscated for the building of the Apartheid Wall; this is what the villagers in the South of Bethlehem wanted to do on this Friday. They were joined by other Palestinian as well as International and Israeli friends.
It was a nonviolent action that was part of a series of actions being implemented in these villages for several months now to protest the building of the Wall, the existence of illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, and to try and save some of the 70% of the agricultural land that will be confiscated when (or if) the Wall is built. And today… we wanted to only plant twenty trees.
As soon as we reached the new asphalt paved road where the wall will be constructed (the paving makes it easier for the trucks to carry the big cement slabs), over seventy heavily armed and heavily protected Israeli soldiers emerged to stop us… The only way they communicated was through force. They were continuously given orders not to engage in any dialogue with us; soldiers who did respond to us on that basic human level received stares of range and anger from their commanders or other soldiers as if they were talking to a lower cast or lower human species. Twenty trees… that was all we wanted to plant.
The Israeli army responded by violence; everything from pushing, hitting and even kicking us. Several people were injured including an Israeli female activist that was thrown forcefully to the ground. Two other Israeli activists were arrested. Even the farming tools were stolen at one point. Yes, twenty trees… One of the soldiers mokengly brought back one of the tools. THe farmer looked at it and said “what do i need this for now if i cant get to my land?’ A few moments later he returned, picked it up, put it on his shoulder and told the soldiers he will not stop.
What does it mean to stop farmers from planting trees on their land? Were the Israeli soldiers given orders to “protect” a farm land from its farmer is there something more to this? Even if (big IF) the wall was meant for security reasons as the Israeli government claims, what is the security in not allowing us fifteen minutes to plant small olive trees on a small piece of property? Or is there something they are not telling the rest of the world as to why they are building this wall… Those of us who live here know the real reasons… do you?
What would you say to someone who prevented you from peacefully planting trees on your property and said that it was for “national security” reasons? Can you imagine this happening where you live?