Non-Violent Resistance Spreads in Betlehem Region
The Betlehem region was the site of two demonstrations against the construction of the Annexation Barrier this friday. International and Israeli activists first joined the residents of Artas in their now weekly demonstration against the construction of a sewage drainage area for the settlement of Efrat and the section of the Annexation Barrier that are being built on Artas’ land. Palestinian, international and Israeli demonstrators marched from the village to the site of the current construction. A small concrete structure has been built on land that less than two months ago was filled with fruit trees. Sewage from the Israeli settlement will now be piped into the valley which is the location of Artas’ agricultural land. The Annexation Barrier will also cut through Artas’ land, incorporating the sewage system and more Palestinian land onto the settlement side of the Fence.
After speeches from a resident of Artas, an organizer from Holy Land Trust, and an activist from Anarchists Against the Wall, who spoke about the choice of the Israeli reservist soldiers to serve, demonstrators marched peacefully back to the village.
Immediately after the march in Artas, Palestinians, internationals and Israelis went to the nearby village of Al-Walaja. This was the first major demonstration in Al-Walaja against the construction of the Annexation Barrier in their area. If completed, the Barrier will completely encircle the village, cutting them off from the rest of the West Bank, including hospitals, schools and the economic center, Betlehem. The people of Al-Walaja began the demonstration with a prayer on the land near where the construction of the Barrier has begun. After the prayer, demonstrators marched down the road along the construction site. A woman from the local community then spoke about the construction of the Wall on their land and the attempt to the Israeli military to turn Al-Walaja into its own prison. Though there was a large number of Israeli soldiers and border police present, the demonstration remained peaceful, and demonstrators left, vowing to return and continue their resistance to the Israeli Occupation and the theft of their land.