Two Injured, One Arrested as Beit Ommar Demonstrations Continue

25 September 2010

On Saturday, September 25, the National Committee in Beit Ommar, together with the Palestine Solidarity Project, organized a demonstration near the illegal Karmei Tsur settlement after midday prayers. The protesters held signs expressing solidarity with Silwan, where demonstrators have clashed with the Israeli military for three days after two Palestinians were shot and killed by settler security guards. The demonstration also commemorated the anniversary of the massacres of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. Additionally, the villagers demanded the release of Palestinian political prisoners, and particularly the release of Yousef Abu Maria, a 17 year old boy from Beit Ommar who has been held in Israeli prisoner for 3 months despite an chronic medical condition.

More than fifty Palestinian, Israeli and international activists marched through the fields toward the nearby settlement of Karmei Tsur. More than a dozen Israeli soldiers and border police blocked the path of the demonstrators near the gate of the settlement, putting a rope across the path and threatening arrest to anyone who crossed. Several Palestinian youth exercised their right to their own land by breaking through the rope at which point soldiers attempted to disperse the demonstration by firing sound bombs and tear gas. Several tear gas canisters were fired directly at activists, in direct violation of Israeli military ordinance.

Several cardboard boxes symbolically representing Israeli settlement products were burned in the pathway by demonstrators. Soldiers attempted to arrest a member of the National Committee, but were prevented from doing so by international solidarity activists who successfully de-arrested him. The Palestinian activist passed out as a result of being beaten while this was happening, and he had to be carried away. However, a French international was arrested after being dragged away by Israeli forces. An Palestinian AP photographer, Nasser Shiyoukhi, had his rib broken after soldiers beat him while he was being detained. Soldiers continued to kick him while he was in custody, but he was released before the demonstration was finished. After another half hour, the demonstrators returned to the village.