***image2***Summer is wedding season in Palestine, and Friday in al-Maâsara brides and grooms led the weekly march against the Wall and settlements. Hundreds of people participated, confronting Occupation forces at the entrance of the village. Scuffles occurred when some broke through the razor wire, and three people were arrested.
Activities began the night prior to the demonstration, when around 30 internationals attended a wedding party and slept in the village. Buses delivered more participants the next day, including a large contingent of students from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.
The festive energy from Thursdayâs party was carried over to the march, and demonstrators sang, danced and chanted their way through the village streets. People gathered on porches and balconies to watch as they passed by, with some joining the procession, which grew to 300 strong by the time it arrived at the blocked road. However, the brides and grooms who had been at the front seemed to have disappeared.
Gathering in front of the barbed wire which separated them from the rows of soldiers and military jeeps, demonstrators shouted slogans and gave short speeches in Arabic, Hebrew and English. The appearance of the brides and grooms, who had exited the village through an alterative route and approached from behind the line of soldiers, interrupted the routine.
As the couples tried to cross the barbed wire, soldiers surged forward toward the larger crowd, beating those trying to break through and knocking protestors to the ground. Occupation forces arrested three Israeli activists, dragging them back to waiting jeeps before reforming their line.
Soldiers proceeded to declare the area a closed military zone, giving those present ten minutes to vacate the area and threatening to arrest anyone who remained. This failed to intimidate the protestors, who refused to be coerced and continued to chant and dance at the barbed wire long after the time limit had expired. Only later in the evening did people return to the village.