South Betlehem Villages Block Settler Road on Land Day
Today, over 300 Palestinians from the South Betlehem villages including Um Salamuna held their friday prayer on the land being confiscated for the Annexation Barrier and then marched down the main road leading to Efrat, blocking settler traffic, in commemoration of Land Day. There was a minor confrontation with three Israeli soldiers as the march enveloped an army jeep, but there were no arrests or injuries. Peaceful demonstrations were held throughout Palestine and in Palestinian villages inside the Green Line, including Budrus, Tulkarem, Bil’in, Sakhnin and Um Salamuna.
Land Day began in 1976 in the Palestinian-Israeli village of Sakhnin to protest the expropriation of Palestinian lands by Israelis in 1948 and 1967. That demonstration was met with extreme violence by the Israeli Army and 6 peaceful demonstrators were killed. Land Day has been commemorated on March 30th ever since by Palestinians throughout the world. Often Land Day is accompanied with a general strike throughout Palestinian cities and villages, though no such strike was called this year.
In Um Salamuna, after prayer, a representative of the regional Popular Committee spoke about the history of the theft of Palestinian land and that the construction of the Apartheid Wall is just the most recent strategy used by the Israeli government to unilaterally expropriate land owned by Palestinians for generations.