Palestinian Activists Play Football During Protest Against Israeli Checkpoint

21 January 2012

On Saturday January 21, 2012, the Popular Committee in Beit Ommar organized its weekly protest in coordination and cooperation with the Popular Committee of Yatta, the Palestine Women’s Struggle Committee, and supported by Israeli and international solidarity activists. The demonstration was held for the first time in from of the Tunnel checkpoint, along the road connecting the city of Hebron with Jerusalem. Tunnel and connecting road is prohibited for use by Palestinians, and is part of Israel’s wider apartheid infrastructure in the West Bank. About 90 people, a large number of them Palestinian women, arrived at the entrance to the tunnel and began playing football.

Additionally, demonstrators chanted against the occupation and waved flags. Among the demands issued by the Popular Committee in Beit Ommar were:

1. Our rights to use this road which is built on a Palestinian land.
2. Our rights to enter freely to Jerusalem which is a Palestinian city without the need to have Israeli security permission.
3. Our rights to move freely on our roads without Israeli apartheid occupation military checkpoints, all the checkpoints (at least 450 in the West Bank alone) have to be removed from Palestinian land.
4. We demand an end to the colonization, apartheid and occupation of our lands in general.

As the activists began playing football, dozens of heavily armed Israeli soldiers attacked the protesters to suppress the peaceful protest by pushing and beating participants. The demonstrators remained steadfast and continued to chant and assert their demands despite this aggression. At a certain point, Israeli soldiers detained Mousa Abu Maria, an organizer with the Beit Ommar Popular Committee and the Palestine Solidarity Project. Mousa was put in a military jeep, but the rest of the demonstrators demanded that he be released immediately. After some time, the soldiers gave in to the demands of the crowd and Mousa was released.

Organizers of the protest asserted that they will continue to carry on their peaceful protests until they have achieved their ultimate goal, ending the occupation and gaining their freedom.