Two committee members arrested in Al-Maasara/Um Salamuna

4 July 2008

Protester being violently arrested

On Friday, July 4th, activists gathered in Al-Ma’asara, Bethlehem District, the Palestinians brought a huge flag with them, but unfortunately this was not an independence day celebration, but the weekly demonstration against the Annexation Barrier and continuing theft of Palestinian land.

As last week there were about 40 Palestinian activists and roughly 20 Israelis and internationals. Today there was a different group of Soldiers and a lot of border police but as last week they had put the same razor wire fence across the road and the gap between the edge of the fence and the nearest permanent structure was blocked with pallets of stone tiles.

The enormous flag was held aloft in the wind and the young Palestinian children started pulling on the razor wire while the adults were demanding access to their land, a new soldier rightfully suggested that the Palestinians should indeed be allowed to access their land. He was quickly silenced by an older soldier, however a Palestinian activist, understandably excited that for once a little bit of justice might be offered, rushed to climb over the stone tiles and go to his land.

At this point the soldiers rushed towards him, they viciously pulled him down from the tiles and took him to their vehicles, activists from Anarchists Against The Wall (AATW) and PSP managed to make it over the tiles, but could not get to him in time to stop him from being arrested. At this point an activist was also captured, another had his trousers/pants ripped open by the violent soldiers and was eventually left by soldiers to try and dress himself near the IDF vehicles.

The soldiers then threw sound grenades directly into the main group of protesters before heading over the stone tiles, AATW protesters scrambled to get back over the tiles but border police had already walked around the nearest building and together with the soldiers were able to quickly arrest another Palestinian who was standing with the main group.

With the border police and most of the soldiers arresting the second Palestinian activist the first was somehow able to make a run for it, the activist in the area (now dressed with a safety pin) was able to run with the Palestinian in solidarity. Unfortunately they were quickly found hiding in a nearby building.

The two international and Israeli activists were later forcibly removed from the vehicle where they were detained with the Palestinians, despite requesting to stay with the Palestinians. The Palestinians were blindfolded and have not been released. In spite of the fact that the Israelis and foreigners were arrested together with the two Palestinians they were released while the Palestinians were taken to the Etzion base. At this point is it not even clear if there are in police or army custody. It appears that the custom at the Etzion base is to not answer the phone on the weekend. That means that for Palestinians held there, there is no way for their lawyers or families to even know what they are suspected of. However Judging by what some of the soldiers said, it appears one of the Palestinians might be charged with assault. This is in spite of the fact that no less than 3 different angles of video footage exist showing this not to be the case. At this point the Palestinians are looking at 8 days in jail before they are even arraigned. That alone aught to be an outrage protested widely, except for the fact that much worse is being carried out in the West Bank every day.