Tear Gas Used to Disperse Demonstration as More Than 100 March in Al-Ma’asara
video by Yisrael Putermam
On Friday the Israeli military rang in the New Year in Al-Ma’asara by using more force than it has in the past two years of demonstrations to disperse a larger-than-usual crowd of demonstrators. After warning members of the Popular Committee of Al-Ma’asara that they would be arrested if the demonstrations continued in 2010, the soldiers at this week’s demonstration appeared more tense. The march, which contained more than 100 people from the Betlehem District, was dedicated to the 45th year anniversary of the Fateh movement.
Accompanied by a mobile sound system playing songs referring to the Palestinian liberation struggle, the demonstrators marched towards the line of Israeli soldiers who had, as usual, placed fencing across the main road, preventing the marchers from accessing the site of the Wall or their agricultural land.
A small contingent of women, all mothers of imprisoned residents of the Betlehem District, led the crowd in chants for Palestinian freedom. Local children began pulling on the fencing, but were pushed back by a small group of soldiers who actually walked over the fence and into the crowd, but were soon turned back to “their side” by the jeers of the crowd. Not satisfied with the usual peaceful ending of the demonstrations, this Friday, for the first time in literally years of demonstrations in Al-Ma’asara, the soldiers began loading tear gas into the guns. As the demonstrators ran back into the village, the soldiers fired the gas into the village. They then returned to their jeeps, and 4-5 jeeps rushed into the village. Soldiers emerged from the jeeps and continued to fire tear gas at the demonstrators as they retreated into the village.