Soldiers Attack Non-Violent Demonstrators in Al-Walaja

19 August 2007

This friday international and Israeli activists joined the people in Al-Walaja, Betlehem district, as they continued their struggle against the construction of the Annexation Barrier on their land. The demonstration began in the street of Al-Walaja, where a sheikh described the current situation in Al-Walaja and the devastating impact the Annexation Barrier will have on their community. After a collective prayer, the demonstrators marched to the land that had recently been bulldozed by the Israeli Occupation Forces. A woman from the community spoke passionately about the role of the international community. In particular, she directed her comments to Christians worldwide. A nearby monastery that was built many years ago on Al-Walaja’s land, has made a deal with the Israeli military to surround their grounds with the Annexation Barrier, cutting the people of Al-Walaja off from even more of their ancestral land.

After the speeches, protesters began to march back towards the village. Israeli Occupation Forces then blocked the way of the demonstrators. Soldiers almost immediately began attacking members of the press, who were clearly identifiable by their fluorescent green vests. After pushing and hitting several photographers, the soldiers turned their attention to other demonstrators. They began shoving and kicking Palestinian, Israeli and international activists, throwing them to the ground and beating them with their rifles. At one point they knocked an international activist to the ground and began dragging him by his legs along the rocky terrain. Other demonstrators came to his aid and he was eventually let go. Another elderly international woman was also violently thrown to the ground by soldiers. She was given medical treatment for cuts on her arms and legs. This violent behavior on the part of the Israeli army has not deterred the people of Al-Walaja who have declared their commitment to continuing their struggle against the Israeli occupation.