Beit Ommar Demonstrators Steadfast Despite Israeli Raids, Arrests
On Saturday, October 23rd, around 50 Palestinian villagers from Beit Ommar, supported by eight Israeli and international solidarity activists, rallied against the nearby settlement of Karmei Tsur despite the entire village being declared a closed military zone by Israeli Forces. Additionally, earlier in the morning at 3:30am, two members of the National Committee, which plans the demonstration every week, had their homes raided by Israeli soldiers who warned them that they would be arrested if they continued to protest against the occupation. During the demonstration, a Palestinian youth was arrested by undercover Israeli Forces and a driver for a press agency was also detained.
Before the demonstration had even started after noontime prayers, Beit Ommar had been declared a closed military zone and Israeli soldiers stationed near the entrance of the village attempted to keep anyone who was not a resident of the area out by closing the military gate on the main road. Despite this, international and Israeli solidarity activists were able to get inside the village and join the Palestinian activists as they marched towards Karmei Tsur waving Palestinian flags and chanting against the occupation.
More than a dozen Israeli Forces blocked the path of the demonstrators in the farmland between the village and the settlement. The area was again declared a closed military zone as many of the demonstrators sat down in front of the soldiers. After several speeches against the occupation, the activists began to return to the village. At this point, several undercover Israeli Forces rushed a group of Palestinian youth, arresting an 18-year-old and briefly detaining a driver for one of the press agencies that had come to report about the demonstration. Soldiers threw a sound bomb at another group of youth who responded by throwing stones.
The weekly demonstrations are organized every Saturday by the National Committee in Beit Ommar and the Palestine Solidarity Project. Organizers vow to continue the demonstrations despite closures of the village, late night military raids, and arbitrary arrests.