Demonstrators Attempt to Block Bulldozers in Um Salamuna

26 October 2007

This week Palestinians and internationals demonstrated against the bulldozers which were once again tearing up grapevines near the road to the Efrat settlement on the land of Um Salamuna. For the past several months the Israeli military has not used the bulldozers on Fridays since the people of the South Betlehem district have been organizing weekly demonstrations against the construction of the Annexation Barrier on their land. Today, however, demonstrators arrived to find that the bulldozers were indeed at work again, destroying their agricultural land and way of life.

The group of Palestinians and internationals marched towards the bulldozers, coming within 50 meters of them before they were stopped by armed private security forces. Soon after, 3 army jeeps, one Armored Personnel Carrier, and 2 Border police jeeps arrived. The soldiers informed the participants that the area had been declared a closed military zone and that after 5 minutes everyone would be arrested. After a quick discussion, the Palestinians and their international supporters decided that, in view of the fact that they were standing on Palestinian land in a Palestinian village in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the order to leave was illegitimate and they would not obey instructions from an occupying army. The activists informed the army that they intended to continue with their demonstration non-violently. They then sat down in a circle with their backs to the soldiers.
The military, seeing the determination of the people to stay on their land, began moving people by force to the side of the bulldozed area. People were picked up or dragged along the ground where they were roughly thrown to the side of the bulldozed path.

An organizer of the demonstration then made a short speech conveying his thanks to the participants and the solidarity activists and emphasizing that justice, not fences, will bring peace to the region.