200 Demonstrators Block Road 60 Outside Beit Ommar
On Saturday, December 23, over 200 people from the villages of Beit Ommar and Halhul as well as other nearby villages marched along Road 60, the main thoroughfare from Hebron to Jerusalem, blocking settler traffic for more than one hour. The Israeli army’s attempt to prevent activists from joining the demonstration by closing the road in front of Al-Arroub before the demonstration began were unsuccessful.
People from Beit Ommar and Halhul, representing all political parties, were joined by international activists from PSP, CPT, and ISM and Israeli groups Ta’ayush and Anarchists Against the Wall, to protest the construction of a new settler bypass road connecting the massive Gush Etzion settlement bloc to the south.
The road under construction snakes through the land of Halhul, Al-Arroub refugee camp, and Beit Ommar. Demonstrators, undeterred by the cold, wet weather, blocked traffic as they made their way down Road 60. Settlers in cars stopped by the demonstration screamed threats to demonstrators but there were no confrontations and the Israeli army did not interfere. The demonstrators walked peacefully from Beit Ommar to Al-Arroub camp, where they were invited by the Agricultural University in Al-Arroub to a presentation by the mayors of Beit Ommar and Halhul and representatives from the university on the impact the road will have on the surrounding areas.
The Israeli government is confiscating 800 dunums of agricultural land from Beit Ommar and 240 dunums from Halhul for the construction of this road. It is also planning to demolish 4 large greenhouses run by the University. This is yet another way in which the Israeli government is strangling Palestinian economic viability. The road is intended to be an Israeli-only road, which Palestinians will have no access to, though it is constructed on their own land.