Beit Ommar Marches In Solidarity With Jerusalem

20 March 2010

At 13:25 Friday afternoon 8 Military jeeps and personnel carriers invaded Beit Ommar in force firing dozens of rounds of rubber coated steel bullets, stun grenades and at least 40 tear gas grenades. The town youth forced the army and Border Police to retreat to the outskirts of the town with a constant barrage of stones.

In a co-ordinated series of non-violent protests across the West Bank today thousands of Palestinians protested peacefully against the Israeli restrictions imposed on access to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, part of a week-long clampdown on Palestinians in Jerusalem which began when the Israeli government announced the construction of 1500 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

In Beit Ommar over 100 residents marched down the main street after midday prayers to demonstrate the strength of feeling against the further violations of their freedom of movement and freedom of worship. They were met by an incursion into the town by 8 military vehicles carrying more than 35 heavily armed soldiers who attempted to disperse the protest using stun grenades and tear gas. A large number of youths began throwing stones at the vehicles and the army responded by sending 2 squads of soldiers towards the centre of the town, breaking into houses as they advanced. From behind the safety of their vehicles other soldiers launched gas grenades and fired rubber coated steel bullets at the youths.

After a standoff for several hours the soldiers retreated to the watch tower at the entrance to the town firing rubber coated bullets and tear gas as they went. The situation remains tense in the town tonight with a3 military vehicles stationed at the entrance to the town and large numbers of youths gathered ready to defend against another invasion.