The Freedom Bus Rides to Beit Ommar
On Thursday 27th of September the Center for Freedom and Justice and Palestine Solidarity Project got a visit from the Freedom Bus, an initiative of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. The Freedom Bus is a solidarity ride through occupied Palestine.
The visitors, from Sweden, Germany, the United States amongst other countries, met members of the Popular Committee in Beit Ommar and international activists at the Center for Freedom and Justice. They got a brief lecture about the village by the executive manager of the center, Younes Arar who told them about the historically Beit Ommar and the six colonies surrounding the village. The visitors learned more about the weekly demonstrations arranged by the popular committee in Beit Ommar and the big amount of arrests, especially child arrests, amongst other subjects.
Afterwards the group entered the Freedom Bus for a guided tour around Beit Ommar. The visitors got to see the colonies of Karmei Tsur and Kfar Ezion and they were told about consequences of the Israeli occupation for the residents of Beit Ommar. The land and green houses of local farmers are often victims of colonist attacks and therefore many of the farmers do not cultivate their land anymore. Center for Freedom and Justice encourage these farmers to keep cultivating so that Israel can not confiscate the land.
The visitors had some delicious grapes close to Kfar Ezion and they learned more about the difficulties the agricultural sector faces due to the occupation. Since the second intifada Israel has not allowed export of Palestinian goods, consequently the farmers have to sell all of their crops on local markets, causing the price to collapse and so did the income.
The bus ride continued past the hilltop in the village of Surif where there formerly was a military colony named Tsurif. The colonists had to pass through the center of Beit Ommar to get to Tsurif and as a result of daily protests for a period of six years Israel gave up this colony. Today the hills is reinhabited by Palestinians.
Members of the Popular Committee in Beit Ommar had made a barbecue for their guests. Just a hundred meters away there was a grass fire, it looked quite dramatic, but with the help from visitors the fire was extinguished.