Beit Ommar and Hebron Protests Continue Despite Ramadan Fatigue
In spite of the heat and Ramadan fatigue, protesters gathered today in Beit Ommar to protest the theft of the village’s land by the illegal Karmei Tsur settlement. A group of about 15 protesters marched through the fields of the the Abu Hashem family toward the fence that separates the settlement from the village, but were stopped before they could reach it by a line of Israeli soldiers outnumbering the protesters nearly 2 to 1. The soldiers drew a line in the dirt and informed the crowed that anyone who crossed it would be arrested. After about 15 minutes they push the crowd back about 30 feet and made the same announcement. Despite being outnumbered the demonstrators stood their ground for nearly forty minutes, waving Palestinian flags and demanding access to their land. At one point a soldier grabbed the arm of a 12 year old boy in an attempt to arrest him, but let go when other demonstrators interfered. No arrests were made and no gas or sound grenades were fired.
Protests also continued in Hebron, where about 40 activists marched through the streets of the old city to the gates of Shuhada Street, once the main street of Hebron, which was has been closed to Palestinians on and off since 1994. Activists chanted against the occupation and the settlements, as well as against the closure of three new shops in the old city, whose doors have been welded shut since August 10. The march was halted by the Israeli military part way through the demonstration to make way for a settler protest, which gathered on the other side of the Shuhada Street gates. The recent shop closures in Hebron’s old city are a an act of collective punishment for the weekly demonstrations held by Youth Against Settlements in front of Bab Al-Balidiyah. This divisive move by the Israeli military has attempted to create animosity between shop owners and demonstrators, and to discourage resistance to the occupation.