Demonstrators Bear a Cross, Block a Bulldozer in Um Salamuna

6 April 2007

Today, on Good Friday, demonstrators in Um Salamuna brought a large wooden cross and blocked an Israeli Army bulldozer there to destroy olive groves for the construction of the Annexation Wall. Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists marched to the working bulldozers carrying a cross and sat in front of a bulldozer, non-violently preventing it from working. The cross was both for the observence of Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the crucifiction of Christ, and as a symbol for the “crucifiction” of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government and their policies of land confiscation and destruction.

Though the demonstrators were completely non-violent and non-confrontational they were met with excessive violence by the Israeli military and private security. Palestinian activists were dragged along the ground and beaten in an attempt to move them away from the bulldozer. Many times the soldiers grabbed activists and pulled them away from the bulldozer but the people were determined and went back to block the work. One Palestinian PSP committee member was violently beaten and dragged to the side of the bulldozed area by 5 soldiers.

At one point, one soldier held him in a choke hold. As he was being beaten while on the ground, he chanted “la, la al-jedar; la, la al-ichtilal” (“no, no, to The Wall; no, no to the Occupation”). He suffered bruising and scratches on his back and neck. Overall, 4 Palestinians and 2 Israelis were treated by Palestinian medics for minor injuries to their heads and backs from beatings and being dragged on the ground.

Three Israeli activists were detained and two handcuffed for a short period of time, but the demonstrators, having accomplished their goal of halting the work for over 1 hour, negotiated for their release, agreeing to leave the area. The three detained activists were then released.

The south Bethlehem villages have held weekly Friday demonstrations against the construction of the Annexation Wall on their land for nearly 3 months. They are also planning a large demonstration on Palestinian Prisoners Day, April 16.