Popular Committee Member, Two Others Arrested at Al Ma’asara Demonstration
On Friday, May 6th, Al Ma’asara Popular Committee member Mahmoud Zwahre was arrested during a peaceful demonstration organized by the village’s popular committee. Around twenty international and Israeli solidarity activists joined with about thirty Al Ma’asara residents in a march towards the proposed site of the Annexation Barrier. Many carried signs decrying Israel’s recent withholding of almost 90 million dollars of Palestinian tax revenue and promising that the nonviolent struggle for a unified Palestinian state could not be bought. Four carried a prop coffin draped in Palestinian flags as a reminder of the true costs of occupation.
As the demonstration approached the entrance to the village, they were stopped by members of the Israel Defense Forces. The soldiers refused to allow the peaceful march to pass, roughly shoved back all those who tried to calmly continue forwards, and demanded that the protest disperse. The group refused, and stood before the military line, asking for an end to the Israeli occupation.
After about twenty minutes, neither side had moved, and the demonstrators decided to stage a spur-of-the-moment sit-in. The soldiers laughed at first, but as the protesters continued to remain, they grew angrier. An IDF jeep was brought in behind the seated crowd, honking as it drove within inches of the protesters. No one moved.
Finally, the IDF moved in, detaining two Israeli activists and Mahmoud Zwahre. The protesters agreed to move back, to facilitate their release. The military followed, often pushing the protesters. Several of the soldiers held tear gas grenades and sound bombs as threats. When the demonstration had reached a safe distance, the IDF arrested both Israelis and Zwahre. Protesters who attempted to negotiate were forced back.
The Israeli activists were put in one jeep and Zwahre in another. The demonstrators stood at a distance, separated from their compatriots by another line of soldiers, until the jeeps drove away.
Both Israelis were released within a few hours. Zwahre was also released, but is charged with blocking a road. He will go to trial in two weeks.