Israeli occupation forces arrested 11 Palestinians, including journalists and detained 5 Israelis and internationals. They were part of a protest-procession which moved today from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem towards Jerusalem under the banner of the call for freedom of religion and freedom of worship.
***image2***Yesterday, some 150 demonstrators marched to the Israeli checkpoint 300 at Rachel’s Tomb, which isolates Bethlehem and Palestinian West Bank residents from Jerusalem, and crossed the military checkpoint. They continued walking until close to the first houses of Beit Safafa.
The protestors carried palm leaves and asked for their internationally recognized rights with banners demanding freedom of worship and movement. The demonstration included two people riding 2 donkeys and a horse to allude to the Palm Sunday scene when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.
***image3***They arrived at the main checkpoint gate used for tourist buses at around 12:30 and decided to just keep going. The occupation forces at the gate tried to close it but the people in march managed to pass under the huge 8 meter high metal gate. The military tried to close other fences but the people kept going. Finally, the Israeli army mobilized its forces and soon several army jeeps arrived and blocked the road half way between the military checkpoint and Deir Mar Elias (the monastery at the edge of Jerusalem). The person riding his donkey, Ibrahim Salah, was the first to be violently knocked down off his donkey and arrested. Further arrests followed. All were violently wrestled to the ground when even many were just walking back to the gates.
***image4***One of the participants comments:
âIt seemed like a calculated move to punish some of us so that others get the message not to try this again.
Some 60 ended up being rounded up in between a wall, a hill, a gate, and a cordon of police officers. We expected to be all arrested. The occupation soldiers instead plucked random people that they thought were the key people.
The popular resistance movement is growing and is willing to pay the price for such significant achievement as this.â
Finally, the following 11 people were arrested:
Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee
Ibrahim Salah, from Bethlehem
Mohammad Al-Hubani, from Bethlehem
Mahmoud Zawahreh, Al-Maâsara
Fadi Hamad, Associated Press photographer from Bethlehem
Hassen Breijeiyah, Al-Ma’sara
Toni Shahwwan, Beit Jala
Ahmad Al-Azza, from Azza Refugee Camp
Shadi Fawaghreh, Wad Rahhal
A donkey and a horse belonging to Ibrahim Salah were also arrested by the Israeli military, as they too need permits from the Israeli military to get in.
Stop the Wall coordinator for the popular committees, Suheil Salman commented on this further mass arrest:
âThe success of the demonstrators to enter Jerusalem sends a clear message and to the Arab leaders meeting in these days for the Arab League summit in Libya that Jerusalem should be on top of the priorities. These protesters have demonstrated that the siege of Jerusalem will be overcome and that breaking this blockade does need but real will. As this protest demonstrated the people are determined and able to break through the military checkpoint to reach Jerusalem and their holy sites.â