al-Ma’sara and Bil’in protest as tensions mounts in Jerusalem
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al-Ma’sara and Bil’in protest as tensions mounts in Jerusalem

As tensions mounts in Jerusalem over the Occupation’s assault on Al Aqsa, demonstrators in the West Bank continued their struggle last week against the Wall and the ongoing confiscation of land.

In Bil’in, villagers marched to the Wall, along with international and Israeli solidarity activists, demanding an end to the occupation and colonization of village land. In total, some 200 people participated in the demonstration, which took place in conjunction with a week of action in the UK, where a group of anti-war protestors is awaiting trial for taking action against the production of weaponry sold to the Israeli military.

As the demonstrators marched towards the Wall, Occupation forces responded with tear gas and sound bombs, injuring one international who was taken to hospital to be treated for burns and tear gas inhalation. In spite of the heavy-handed repression, the demonstration continued for over an hour and a half, with participants standing united, chanting and clapping through the clouds of tear gas.

Meanwhile, in al-Ma’sara, the demonstration on October 23rd marked the fourth anniversary of weekly demonstrations in southern Bethlehem. Villagers were joined by international and Israeli activists as they marched through the village, towards their land isolated behind the Wall. Occupation forces cut the demonstration off at the entrance of the village, as they laid razor wire across the road and prevented people from marching further.

Rather than bringing an end to the demonstration, this repression merely gave organizers a platform upon which to deliver speeches about the right to resist, and the importance of continuing the struggle until justice is achieved. Demonstrators then attempted to move the razor wire and continue to their land, which resulted in several beatings at the hands of Occupation forces.

Following the demonstration, a commemoration was held in honour of Qaher Aladeen, a member of the al-Ma’sara Popular Committee Against the Wall, who was killed in a road accident while filming a documentary about the Wall.
Since the popular resistance began in al-Ma’sara, the village has regularly been subject to threats, violent attacks and arrests against members of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. In April 2009, seven activists were arrested at a single demonstration, in a failed effort to crush the popular demonstrations.