Al-Qasa Demonstrates Against Expulsions
On Saturday Israeli and international activists joined some residents of the Al-Qasa region, just outside Idhna, in the Hebron District, to demonstrate against their recent expulsion from their homes after over 50 years of residency. 264 refugees from 1948 lived in caves, small homes, and tents in the Al-Qasa area until two weeks ago, when the Israeli military forced them from their homes and destroyed most of them. The reason? Al-Qasa is in “the seam zone”, the ‘no man’s land’ created where the Israeli government refused to build the Annexation Barrier on the Green Line and instead built it further into Palestinian land. Thousands of Palestinians up and down the West Bank are caught between the Green Line, which is considered the ‘border’ with Israel, and the Annexation Barrier, cutting them off from Palestine and Israel.
Saturday, people from Al-Qasa, carrying signs in Hebrew, Arabic, and English saying, “no to the Wall” and “Stop the Expulsion” marched towards the Annexation Barrier that was the cause of their second displacement, and attempted to cut it open and march through towards their demolished homes. After cutting through a smaller barbed-wire fence before the main structure, one Israeli military jeep arrived and the soldiers quickly began shouting at the demonstrators to leave the area. Determined to continue towards their destination, the participants crossed through the barbed-wire fence and marched along the outside of the fence towards where their homes once stood. Several more soldiers and border police quickly arrived and crossed through the main Fence to try to stop the demonstrators from going forward.
When the participants approached the soldiers, two police officers grabbed one Israeli activist and began pulling him away from the crowd. All of the participants immediately sat down, including the Israeli activist, who was then let go. Border police announced that the demonstrators were in a military zone and were forbidden to be there and if they did not leave within 5 minutes, everyone would be arrested. The group decided to stay for the full 5 minutes to make their point, and then leave, having made their point for the day. When the 5 minutes were up, the demonstrators began marching slowly back towards the village. Participants then attached their signs to the fence, leaving their message of resistance.
Back in the village, both residents of Al-Qasa and members of the Idhna city council vowed to continue the demonstrations against the Annexation Barrier and the expulsions. As one resident of Al-Qasa said, “this week there are 20 people, next week will be 50, next week 100. Slowly, we will grow.”