Like every Friday, we gathered early in the morning at Holy Land Trust and traveled with international and Palestinian volunteers to join the villagers, other internationals and Israeli nonviolent activists in the weekly nonviolent protest against the building of the Apartheid Wall. This week’s action coincided with the International Court of Justice ruling that declared the Wall as violating international law and UN resolutions.
Like every week, the Israeli army came with full arms to prevent a peaceful and nonviolent procession on the path where the wall will be build in the village of Um sallamona. A new Israeli army commander was there this time… (My guess is that they have to change them every once in a while as I am sure even the captains of these divisions start doubting their own military and government policy). Even with the threats to arrest us, the group committed to walking the path of the wall. The Israeli army created a human wall to prevent us from walking and we tried several times to nonviolently break through this wall.
In one surprise attack the Israeli army burst into the demonstrators and arrested Muhammad Brejieh, one of the leaders of the Popular Committee to Resist the Wall in South Bethlehem, a dedicated nonviolent activist and a good friend. He was snatched forcefully as several of us tried to protect him. We were physically assaulted as we tried to hold on to Muhammad. I was kicked by several Israeli soldiers in the end of this raid to force me to let go of Muhammad’s leg; seeing this he asked me to let go.
A decision was made by the organizers not to leave until we had assurances of Muhammad’s release. This stand-off created an opportunities for international participants to engage in dialogue with the soldiers who some of them seemed to truly not know what was going on, but the soldiers were continuously given orders (sometimes in harsh language) by their commanders not to talk with the activists, but I am sure they listened.
After a long time of protesting his arrest and refusing to yield to the Israeli army threats, that same “new” Commander came back to us with a guarantee and a promise that if we ended the protest they will release him within the hour…
While the Palestinians have lost trust in any promise or word given by such figures, the commander put himself in a position where he can show (at least to our visitors and the international press) that maybe there is some human dignity deep inside him and he can make a promise and keep it. While I truly was hoping for that, Muhammad in still in prison and today is the fourth day…
I wonder if this same commander will be in next week’s demonstration and I wonder what promise he will make then or maybe today he thought it was April 1st not Friday the 13th!