1 Injured in Ni’lin, 1 Detained in Al-Ma’asara, More Than 100 March to Sheikh Jarrah on Friday

8 December 2009

Demonstrations across Occupied Palestine this Friday had remarkable energy, despite the winter weather. In Ni’lin, more than 100 Palestinians were joined by Israeli and international activists in their routine march towards the Annexation Barrier. They were met with a barrage of tear gas and the return of the use of .22 caliber Ruger rifles, which the Israeli military claims are “crowd dispersal” weapons and “non-lethal”. Several Palestinians have been killed by these bullets which are only .003 inches smaller than the regular live ammunition used by the Israeli army in M-16s (they claim the .22 ruger is non-lethal because of a suppressor used on the guns, the logic of which has been rejected by human rights organizations and weaponry experts alike). A 20 year-old man was shot in the upper thigh with a .22 and was evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah during Friday’s demonstration. An Israeli activist reported witnessing the shooting, which came from soldiers separated from the demonstrators by two fences and concrete blocks, indicating the claim that of the military that they shot because their lives were in danger is ludicrous.

In Al-Ma’asara, dozens of demonstrators, among them international and Israeli solidarity activists, marched to the edge of the village in their weekly protest against the construction of the Annexation Barrier in their area. The group gathered at the edge of the village, prevented from continuing to their agricultural land by the Israeli military who regularly erects a barbed-wire fence across the road during the demonstrations. One Palestinian man, who was holding a flag near the wire, was violently grabbed by the Israeli military and dragged across the wire fencing before being put in the back of a military jeep. The demonstrators then began an impromptu sit-in, demanding he be released. After some time, he was released and the demonstrators returned to the village. Two days later it was reported that settlers from the settlement of Efrat came onto the land of Um Salamona, adjacent to Al-Ma’asara, and uprooted over 50 trees planted there just days before.

In Shekih Jarrah, and throughout East Jerusalem, tension is mounting. This comes days after reports that more than 4,000 Palestinians had their Jerusalem residency revoked, more than half of the total revocations for the previous 40 years. Another court case has allowed Jewish extremist settlers to move into an annex of an Al-Kurd family home, forcing the Palestinian family, who has lived in the home since 1956, to the rear portion of the home. This is the 5th family who were moved into these homes in the 1950′s by the UN after their initial expulsion from homes in West Jerusalem during 1948-49 who have now been evicted to make room for extremist settlers to move in. The Al-Kurd family has petitioned the Israeli court to allow them to demolish the addition, which was built 10 years ago, rather than be forced to share a home with violent settlers.
It was against this background that more than 100 activists, mostly Jewish Israelis and international supporters, marched throughout West Jerusalem, carrying signs and chanting against the evictions in East Jerusalem. They were met with mixed responses, some passersby cheered them on while others cursed and spat on them. The march made its way to Sheikh Jarrah, where it met up with the families who were evicted last summer and who are now living in tents on the street in front of their homes. They were soon confronted with a large contingent of religious Jews who had come to the newly occupied house for Friday evening prayers. In what one Israeli activist called “nothing but provocative”, the settlers danced and sang loudly at the beginning of their shabbat prayers in front of the Palestinian home owners and their supporters.
Rabbi Arik Asherman, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, an organizer of the demonstrations in Jerusalem, reportedly said, “if nothing changes, Jerusalem will burn.”