Beit Ommar Residents Protest as Road Closures Enter Third Day
On Saturday, March 26, 2011, international and Israeli activists joined with Beit Ommar villagers to protest the road closures of the area, now in their third day. Around fifty participants and twenty journalists gathered near the village cemetery, where Israeli Defense Forces had closed off the road with large blocks of cement. The strongest members of the group began pushing one of the blocks, attempting to roll it aside to allow the passage of cars. Israeli military forces arrived and looked on until the group began to lever the block with a long steel pole. At this point, a soldier approached and confiscated the pole. An Israeli activist was arrested, but was released after an hour.
Demonstrators moved beyond the blocks to continue as a peaceful march down to the road. However, they were halted by soldiers, who produced paperwork declaring everything beyond the village limits a closed military zone. When it became clear that the IDF would not allow demonstrators to continue outside the village limits, the protest moved to another road near the main gate and military watchtower.
This road was also blocked by cement barriers. As the protest attempted to move past, soldiers once again intervened, citing the papers calling everything outside of the road blocks a closed military zone. Israeli activists argued with the soldiers for twenty minutes before the protest moved one last time to the main gate of Beit Ommar.
This time, the military barred the path yet again. As arguments between IDF and Israeli activists began again, the soldiers opened the gate. They did not allow anyone to pass however, and they locked it once more within five minutes. Demonstrators stood in front of the army for another half hour, waving flags, speaking with media, and asking for an end to the closure of Beit Ommar, before peacefully dispersing.