Planting trees, building bases in Bethlehem
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Planting trees, building bases in Bethlehem

***image2***Last week, Occupation forces act on their intentions to re-establish a military base in Beit Sahour. Despite the protests of residents, soldiers declared the area a closed military zone, bringing in heavy machinery to begin work. Also around Bethlehem last week, activists planted olive trees near the Wall in a symbolic display of steadfastness and a refusal to be uprooted from their land.

On February 10, Occupation forces began work on a new military structure, which will be located in Oush Gharb on the site of a former military base which was evacuated in 2006. Bulldozers were brought in to raze the old building and guard tower, and when residents approached the area they were informed that it was a closed military zone for the remainder of the day.

The following day, a group of Palestinian and international activists headed to the area in protest where they discovered work was continuing. When they approached soldiers and bulldozers, they were pushed back toward the main road.

It is clear that Occupation forces have the intention of re-establishing a presence at the site of the previously evacuated military base. Further, settlers have taken an interest in the area, visiting it regularly and threatening to begin work on a new settlement.

While Occupation forces are laying the foundation for a new military base, Palestinian activists in another part of the Bethlehem district planted trees near the Wall. Stop the Wall, with the cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture, organized a planting in Wad Abu ‘Amira, an area southwest of Bethlehem, near the settlement of Efrat.

Volunteers with the Campaign, along with international activists, accompanied landowners and were able to plant 235 new olive trees on lands next to the Wall, many several meters from the Wall, far inside the so-called “security” or buffer zone. This zone extends 30 – 100 meters, depending on the location, from the Wall up and down the West Bank.

The tree planting is part of a wider agricultural campaign that aims to reclaim and replant 480 dunums of land. It is set to continue into March.