On the first Friday of Ramadan, thousands of Palestinians tried to reach the Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem for prayers in Al-Aqsa mosque.  But only some men above 50 and some women above 45 year old were allowed to enter through the checkpoints in the apartheid wall. Some of those left behind participated in demonstrations.  Al-Walaja demonstration was particularly inspiring and faced the might of the apartheid system. The Apartheid wall here is being built to surround Al-Walaja on all sides.   We marched from the mosque towards the village entrance and along the main road; here the wall facing Al-Walaja village is ugly concrete and the side of it facing the illegal colony of Har Gilo is decorated with Jerusalem stone.  We stopped at the village entrance as planned, beat drums and chanted things like “1234 Occupation no more… 5678 stop the stealing stop the hate”, several military and police vehicles and dozens of heavily armed apartheid warriers prepared to attack us.  Ali chanted in Arabic, I spoke in English, and then Ali spoke in Hebrew.  We addressed the gathering and the soldiers telling them this was a peaceful demonstration against land confiscation.  We explained that this village lost 80% of its land in 1948 and is now about to lose the rest.  The officers came and gave us five minutes to disperse but then started attacking us within five seconds with stun grenades and tear gas. They arrested Ali Al-Aaraj and then they ran into the nearby house and arrested his cousin Ma’moun (who was not participating in the demonstration).  Some colonial racist settlers showed up with an Israeli flag and waved it and cheered their storm troops on. They also violently attacked people injuring several (I personally saw them toss a man down against a concrete wall injuring him in the leg). Those abducted were released a few hours later thanks to good legal support.

Photos here (the last six in the series including showing arrest of Ma’moun
which is not shown on my video).

Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He previously served on the faculties of the University of Tennessee, Duke and Yale Universities. He served on the board/steering/executive committees of a number of groups including Peace Action Education Fund, the US Campaign to End the Occupation, the Palestinian American Congress, Association for One Democratic State in Israel/Palestine, and He is now president of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People. He advised many other groups including Sommerville Divestment Project, Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project, Palestine Freedom Project, Sabeel North America, and National Council of Churches of Christ USA. He is an active member of a number of human rights groups (Amnesty, Peace action, Human Rights Watch, ACLU etc.). He published several books of which the most acclaimed “Sharing the Land of Canaan: human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” which was also translated to Spanish.

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