On December 23, Over 75 local and international activists descended on the town of Artas, to the south of Bethlehem, to reclaim land that has been threatened with confiscation by the Occupation authorities.
In February of this year, Occupation authorities issued an order to confiscate over 1770 dunums of land belonging to the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Endowments. Following an appeal for help issued by the Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, along with the local popular committee and the Ministry, volunteers and activists joined the people of Artas in working the land, planting 283 dunums with olive and almond trees.
A member of the Bethlehem Popular Committee, Awad Abu Sway, highlighted the importance of media coverage in bringing to light Israeli policies of colonization in the Bethlehem district, which has seen much of its land confiscated for the construction of the Wall, settlements and related infrastructure. Presently, only 13% of the land in the entire district is available for Palestinian use.
Awad also highlighted the importance of youth participation in this activity. Youth have been instrumental in popular resistance, risking injury, arrest and death in villages like Jayyus and Niâlin. Last week, in the first West Bank-wide youth conference, young men and women from across the West Bank and the â48 met in Jenin to discuss strategy and tactics for building up the popular movement against the Wall and settlements in the West Bank.
The recovery of these first 283 dunums marks a successful first step, and activists plan to recover and rehabilitate the entire area threatened with confiscation.