Traffic Blocked on Israeli-Only Road

25 October 2007

This morning just in time for rush hour traffic, Palestinian, international, and Israeli activists, including people from Anarchists Against the Wall and Palestine Solidarity Project marched onto the Jerusalem-bound side of Road 443 in the Occupied West Bank and stopped traffic.

For several years Road 443, which leads through the heart of the West Bank, has been designated “restricted”, meaning Palestinians are forbidden from using it. The demonstration was intended to highlight the illegality and immorality of Israel’s apartheid system of restricting access to roads based on nationality. Over 30 Palestinian, Israeli, and international demonstrators, some of whom were locked to a large metal road gate, marched across the street and sat down, blocking traffic for nearly 15 minutes. Protesters carried signs in English in Hebrew calling for an end to the Occupation of Palestine and reminding drivers that Israel is the only apartheid state in the Middle East. Traffic was backed up for about half a kilometer. Drivers were given letters in Hebrew explaining that the purpose of the demonstration was to bring attention to the Israeli policy of apartheid road systems, including the major road they were traveling on at the moment. It also reminded the drivers that though they faced a small inconvenience this morning, it is incomparable to the devastating effects this apartheid system, which includes Israeli-only roads, roadblocks, and checkpoints, has on the local Palestinian population.

After approximately 5 minutes dozens of Israeli soldiers, border police, and riot police arrived from the other side of the road and began brutally beating demonstrators in an attempt to remove them from the road. Soldiers and police dragged demonstrators by their hair, kicked them while they were on the ground, and stood on one international man’s face while he was being arrested. Several demonstrators had their clothes torn as police and soldiers dragged them to the side of the road and began slamming them into the guardrail. Even after the activists were cleared from the road, the soldiers and police continued to attack them, though they were completely unprovoked. Several participants were injured when they were thrown down the hill next to the side of the road. Journalists were not spared, even after showing their press ID’s at least two journalists were violently thrown over the guardrail and down the hill.

In all, 5 Israelis and 3 internationals were arrested, though 3 of the Israelis and 2 of the internationals who were arrested well after the action was complete were released soon afterward on the spot. Two Israeli activists and one international who were arrested earlier were taken to the police station in the Israeli settlement Geva Benyamin where they were held until approximately 7pm, when they released on the condition that they not return to the Occupied Territories for 30 days.
This comes 6 weeks after the Palestine Solidarity Project and members of Anarchists Against the Wall did a similar action in which they blocked the entrance of Karme Tsur settlement with a piece of their own fence.