BEIT JALA: Teargas and arrests 23May10 May 24, 2010

Report and photographs by Robert Birch

The weekly protest against the encroaching apartheid wall took place this Sunday, 23 May, in Beit Jala. Once again Palestinians were prevented from reaching the site by Palestinian Authority police, leaving the field to assorted international activists and a sizeable contingent of Israeli supporters – and, of course, Israeli security contractors, border police, soldiers and plainclothes agents.

Despite having to clamber down a precipitous terraced hillside to reach the site, a group of committed activists managed to seat themselves in the path of the leading bulldozer. By clinging determinedly to one another they managed to resist being dragged away into detention for upwards of an hour. They hung on even when the operator of the bulldozer put their lives at risk when he resumed excavating within a metre of them.

The exasperation of the troops at failing to remove the demonstrators found its expression in detonating sound bombs and throwing teargas canisters amongst the assembled journalists and photographers. Nevertheless, the most determined of them managed to hang in and record the event until the last demonstrator had been arrested, handcuffed and carried to the waiting police vehicle.

The six activists- all Israeli nationals- who were arrested were released the same day. The final act of violence by the Israeli Occupation Force was to enter the village and teargas a group of Palestinian children who had taken no part in the demonstration. I suppose it helped to relieve their frustrations.


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