Beit Jala Protest Against the Apartheid Wall
For the second week running Beit Jala marched in protest at the building of Israel’s annexation wall through Palestinian land. Israeli soldiers responded with powerful tear gas and stun grenades.
The Israeli military was waiting as the 200-strong group of men, women and children gathered in the Christian village next to Bethlehem. While a Jerusalem member of the clergy was speaking to TV crews and cameras, soldiers were occupying the roof of a Palestinian home – opposite builders trying to work at the top of a nearby house.
Soldiers fired tear gas as soon as the march began. Several people were treated at the scene for breathing difficulties and others were carried on stretchers to ambulances. Two people were arrested.
Palestinians are demonstrating against plans to separate 58 Beit Jala families from their land, cut off Palestinian access to most of the Cremisan (one of the last places of natural beauty near Bethlehem) and uproot 1,500 ancient olive trees. A bulldozer was clearing the land as people ran from the tear gas.
On 17 August, the Israeli Supreme Court reversed its position to halt construction of the wall in the Beit Jala area and allowed work to commence. This decision proves once again that the Israeli Supreme Court is merely an extension of the Israeli government and its army – leaving little room for justice.
Demonstrating is therefore one of the only ways Palestinians can voice their dissent; and violence is the only way that the Israeli leadership knows how to respond.