Friday Demonstration, Beit Ommar-Style

21 February 2010

A relatively newly formed Nationalist Committee (Al Lajna Al Wataniya) in Beit Ommar has been working on a program to increase Palestinian participation in local actions and demonstrations. Around 70 Palestinians marched towards the outer fence around Karmei Tsur settlement, carrying flags and demanding that they be allowed through the perimeter fence to privately-owned Palestinian land which was cut off from its owners when the secondary fence was built on Beit Ommar’s land in the summer of 2006. Settler security arrived quickly and began threatening to shoot any Palestinian who touched the fence (which a few farmers proceeded immediately to do). Soon after, the Israeli military arrived on the settlement side of the fence, opened the gate, and began throwing stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd. Demonstrators remained for about an hour, continuing to demand unfettered access to their land beyond the fence and insisting that the settlers should be arrested for trespassing, before returning to the village. Similar demonstrations were organized for a short time in the winter of 2007/2008 before they were stopped by the PA when the organizers refused to coordinate with the Palestinian regional government.

The Nationalist Committee of Beit Ommar, made up mostly of veteran activists and members of the original Popular Committee of Beit Ommar in the late 1980′s, is focusing on the rejuvenation of mass-Palestinian participation in a popular movement against the Occupation. Wary of an overemphasis on International and Israeli participation in the Palestinian liberation struggle, the Committee has declined to actively invite solidarity activists to its actions and demonstrations, for the time being, though a small number from PSP was present. While starting small for this village of 16,000, The Committee was nevertheless encouraged, believing that participation will grow as residents are engaged in the strategic planning of future activities.