West Bank villagers protest “apartheid wall” land-grab

On March 2, residents from Um Salamoneh and nearby villages outside Bethlehem joined with international and Israeli supporters in a nonviolent protest against the seizure of Palestinian farmland for construction of Israel’s illegal “separation wall.” The protesters conducted Friday prayers on the farmland, and then moved to a nearby settler-only road, which they blocked until the Israeli army arrived at the scene and a small scuffle broke out. No injuries were reported.

Protests were also held Feb. 27, when Israeli army bulldozers started destroying land belonging to Um Salamoneh. Palestinian farmers and villagers from Um Salamoneh and the surrounding villages gathered to protest at the site, joined by Israeli and international supporters. When the Israeli troops moved to break up the protest, several villagers were injured and one local youth arrested.

On Feb. 28, two Palestinians, five internationals and six Israelis climbed on a stationary bulldozer, holding it until they were forcible removed by Israeli troops. Two international and four Israeli activists were arrested and taken to Gush Etzion prison. They were released on the condition that they do not return to the site of the protest for 15 days.

The wall will cause the isolation of several villages south of Bethlehem, especially Wad Rahhal, Um Salamoneh, Al Ma’sara and Wad Al Niss. Um Salamoneh stands to have 700 dunums of agricultural land confiscated. Ten villages outside Bethlehem stand to lose 1,000 olive trees and 70,000 grape vines through the construction of the wall. (IMEMC, March 2).

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