Over 500 Palestinian and international protesters on Sunday organized a demonstration against the Israeli occupation’s decision to continue building the apartheid wall in the Christian West Bank village of Beit Jala.
The protest was repressed with showers of teargas grenades fired by Israeli soldiers.
However, in the midst of anger, excitement and patriotic slogans, for the first time the protesters have displaced an Israeli military gate which separated the lands of Beit Jala, surrounded by wire fences to mark the path of the wall.
The protesters included citizens from Beit Jala and all cities over the West Bank, in addition to international activists, Christian and Muslim religious men, politicians and officials from the Popular Struggle Committee.
General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative (Al-Mubadara), Dr. Mustafa Al-Barghouthi assured solidarity with the people of Beit Jala bu attending the protest, saying that the Palestinians will not allow Israel to continue its systematic apartheid and discrimination and confiscation of Palestinian land.
“The Israeli army and settlers have confiscated more than 48% of Beit Jala land. What the young people have done today is a proof that nothing will stop us from reaching our freedom, and that no force in the world can stop the people who are determined to be free from becoming free.”
To his part, HE Archbishop Atallah Hanna praised the activity especially with the distinguished Christian-Muslim participation in it, which expresses the unity and oneness of the Palestinian people.
“We met here in Beit Jala to assure that we are one people fighting for the same cause, and to say that we reject all Israeli policies of apartheid and violations
Activist for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, Abdulalh Abu Rahma told PNN that Building this wall means destroying the economic resources of the families living here.
Adviser to the president for Christian National and International Relations, Ziad Al-Bandak attended the protest, stressing that the Israeli Occupation has a history of confiscation and working against the will of the international community and the Palestinian people and peace in the region.
“It is a shame that these actions by the IOF are being done in front of the open eyes of the international community especially the United States and the European Union (EU) who are not taking any actions to sanction Israel.”
Al-Bandak added that the protest aimed to send a message to the international community to impel pressure on Israel to stop apartheid, not only in Beit Jala, but in all of Palestine.
On Monday, August 17, Israeli occupation forces broke into Beit Jala town northwest of Bethlehem, using bulldozers and excavators, to proceed building a new section of the apartheid wall, which will split the Cremisan valley Monastery in half, and destroy an archeological site named Bir Ouna.
The site is annexed to the Israeli settlement of Gilo, which was originally built on confiscated Palestinian land that belongs to the citizens of Beit Jala.
The town is famous for the olive trees, of which 120 have been confiscated within the past week. The overall of olive trees that have been uprooted hit about 7000, according to statistics published by the Popular Committee Against Apartheid Wall.
The Israeli Supreme Court had in May issued a resolution rejecting the proposed path of the wall in Cremisan valley due to concerns for the huge impact on the residents’ lives. It demanded that the Ministry of Defense make adjustments to the proposal in order to minimize that impact, stressing that the most important thing was to protect the monastery and its lands, as well as preserve territorial contiguity between the monastery and the residents of the surrounding areas.
However, the court overturned its own decision in July, backing the position of the Israeli Ministry of Army, and rejected the appeal to halt the wall.