Settlers Ride Past Beit Ommar On Jerusalem Day

21 May 2012

On Sunday, May 20th, 2012, around fifty thousand Jews marched to the Old City in Jerusalem to celebrate ‘Jerusalem Day’. The march celebrated the 45th anniversary of the ‘recapturing’ of East Jerusalem in 1967 (a culmination of the ‘Six Day’ War).

Sections of highway 60 around Beit Ommar were closed so that around five hundred settlers could cycle to Jerusalem for the march. Highway 60 connects Beit Ommar with the rest of the West Bank. Amidst an extremely heavy presence of soldiers and police the main entrance to Beit Ommar was also temporarily closed, almost completely halting Palestinian life as a result.

Many of the settlers shouted ostentatiously at Palestinian bystanders (many of whom were waiting for the roads and checkpoints to reopen in order to carry on with their respective journeys). A jeep playing loud celebratory music also accompanied the settlers.

As the procession neared the settlement of Gush Etzion (a few kilometres north of Beit Ommar), an 18 year old Palestinian man, Salah Zaghir, was shot by an Israeli soldier on the suspicion that he may have been carrying a knife and planned to attack a soldier or settler. He is thought to be in a critical condition.

Near Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem, a peaceful pro-Palestinian counter demonstration was forcibly suppressed by border police and horses. Five Palestinians were arrested.

Jewish youths provocatively danced in front of local Arab residents and cheered when the pro-Palestinian demonstrators were removed by police. Arab residents of East Jerusalem were also not allowed to reach their homes for several hours during the events.