Simultaneous Protests Mark Land Week and Continuing Resistance to the Apartheid Wall
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Simultaneous Protests Mark Land Week and Continuing Resistance to the Apartheid Wall

***image2***Activities organized by the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, and the National Committee to Resist the Apartheid Wall, to mark the commemoration of Land Day kicked off on Wednesday the 30th of March. Popular mobilization ensured demonstrations took place in Hebron/Surif, Bil’in/Saffa and Bethlehem.

Surif, Hebron City

In the northwest of Hebron City (Surif), over 1000 people heeded the calls for mass mobilization. Most of the people present had already lost their land to the Apartheid Wall, or will soon be isolated from their land due to the Wall’s ongoing construction. They were joined by a number of representatives from NGOs, together with social activists.

Demonstrators converged upon the main square of the Hebron City municipality at midday, and marched to confiscated lands. Speeches followed and slogans were raised to tear down the Apartheid Wall. Clashes with Occupation Forces ensued when force was applied against the protestors, in an attempt to block their access to the land. The clashes lasted for over two hours, leaving 8 people seriously injured in the onslaught of Occupation rubber bullets and tear gas. A military jeep belonging to the Occupation Forces was destroyed by the demonstrators, who refuse to concede their land for the Apartheid Wall.

Bethlehem

***image3***Hundreds of people joined the demonstration in Bethlehem. Dozens of organizations were reflected in the make-up of the protest, revealing the anger felt throughout civil society to the construction of the Apartheid Wall. The march began from Nisan Square to the Caritas hotel, positioned right next to the Apartheid Wall. There the demonstrators engaged in a tense stand-off with the Occupation Forces blocking their path. The crowd burst into chanting and songs, calling for an end to the Occupation, and the destruction of its Apartheid Wall.

Later the march continued to the area of Al-Qubaa by Bilal Mosque (Rachel’s Tomb), where Occupation Forces have forcibly evacuated the entire area for the construction of its Apartheid Wall. This has led to the isolation of over 300 houses and shops. It has become a ghost town while the Occupation Forces, and their entourage of technical “experts”, complete the construction the Apartheid Wall in the heart of Bethlehem. Protestors were able to reach one of the houses situated next to the Wall as a way of expressing their insistence to keep each square meter of the Palestinian land. There they agreed upon the strategy of popular resistance until every aspect of the racist, colonialist attack is defeated including the tearing down of the Apartheid Wall.

Bil’in and Saffa

***image4***The joint demonstration between the two villages began at 10 am with over 600 protestors gathering in Saffa. All generations of villagers were present, and they were joined by residents from the village of Biddu. Numbers were boosted further by the large presence of local school children who had worked in the popular mobilization of the demonstration.

The school children sought to plant olive trees on land uprooted and bulldozed for the Apartheid Wall. To conquer the Occupation Forces who blocked the activity, children linked arms with villagers and marched to their lands. Outnumbering the Occupation Forces, and through their resilience, protestors accessed the confiscated lands. There a planting ceremony was held symbolizing the Palestinian right to life and existence on their lands.

The first demonstration lasted for two hours. People dispersed to their villages before the second demonstration in Bil’in was due to start in the afternoon. Occupation Forces followed them and attacked with a combination of tear gas canisters, sound bombs and rubber bullets. Bombs were thrown into the houses of villagers culminating in a series of critical injuries from the Occupation violence. An ambulance that had arrived to collect Palestinian casualties was also targeted by the Occupation Forces, who broke its windows with their poisonous tear gas canisters.

The demonstration regrouped and moved to Bil’in at 12.30 pm holding a sit-in protest on the confiscated land. Speeches called for the Apartheid Wall to be torn down in accordance with the ICJ ruling, and villagers vowed to continue resistance, even with their bare hands, to see this decision implemented.

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