International Day of Nonviolence Commemorated in South Betlehem

9 October 2007

October 2, 2007 was the International Day of Nonviolence. On Friday October 5, in commemoration of this day, international and Israeli activists joined Palestinians from Um Salamuna and the wider Betlehem region who have been struggling against the construction of the Annexation Fence through their land for the past 8 months in a demonstration on the land of Um Salamuna. Demonstrators marched to the path of The Fence and then began to march towards their lands which will be confiscated and added to the Efrat settlement. Dozens of Israeli Occupation soldiers came down from the settlement prevent the demonstrators from continuing their march.
When the soldiers met the march, without any provocation or warning, they began roughly pushing one international activist back down the hill the protesters had marched up. A soldier then grabbed a Palestinian organizer by the throat and violently pushed him back into the crowd. The demonstrators raised their hands to show that they were non-violent.
One woman from Christian Peacemakers Team then attempted to give the soldiers a letter written by them that included a quote and picture of Martin Luther King, jr. expressing their desire for peace and equality and their commitment to non-violent struggle against oppression. The soldiers refused to take the letter from the woman and continued to push and antagonize the demonstrators. Participants then sat down with their backs to the soldiers and several community leaders, including Mohammed Takatka, the mayor of Um Salamuna, spoke about the importance of their land to the Palestinian people and the long history of non-violent resistance in Palestine. The demonstrators then decided to leave peacefully and the woman from CPT tried one last time to deliver their message of peace and equality. A soldier finally took it without looking at it, folded it in half, and left it under a rock; the Israeli Occupation Forces’ response to the International Day of Nonviolence.