Threatened by Solidarity Activists, Israeli Forces Put Up Checkpoints in South Betlehem

8 June 2008

This Friday, June 6, like every previous Friday for nearly a year and a half was a day for demonstrations in the Betlehem District against the construction of the Annexation Barrier. Though demonstrations have been relatively small and totally non-confrontational in the region, the Israeli military still goes to extreme lengths to prevent internationals and Israelis from attending the demonstrations. This Friday, the demonstration in Al-Ma’asara/Um Salamuna was planned for 10:30am. By 9 am that morning, the Israeli military had set up checkpoints on the road to the area from 2 directions, preventing any Palestinian taxis from accessing the area.
With some persistence, international and Israeli supporters were able to reach the demonstration, and join the 20 Palestinians from the area as they marched from the entrance of the village to a triple-layered razor-wire barrier put up across the road by the Israeli military to prevent the demonstrators from approaching the site of the Annexation Barrier, which snakes through Palestinian agricultural land. After speeches by members of the regional Popular Committee, the demonstration peacefully dispersed, and it was on to the next location.
In nearby Al-Khadr, on the outskirts of Betlehem, residents are fighting a suffocating combination of the Annexation Barrier, an enormous wall, a settler by-pass road and tunnel, all being built on their land, leading to the theft of 90% of their privately-owned land. Scores of locals met on the road near the entrance to the settlement and village and held the Friday midday prayers on a stretch of road that they may soon be prevented from using.