Villagers and supporters today gathered on the land of Um Salamuna to appeal for international solidarity in their struggle against the apartheid like Wall being built there.
After a series of speeches the protesters marched to a nearby settler-only road and blocked it. The Israeli army arrived and pushed people off the road but no injuries were reported. The demonstration then returned back to the village.
The International Solidarity movement states,
"Today’s demo comes at a critical time for the South Bethlehem villagers as work on the Wall has just restarted and is continuing every day. Last Tuesday farmers were beaten and arrested for resisting the razing of their land and on Wednesday international and Israeli activists managed to stop the bulldozers for two hours."
The following is a report from the Palestine Solidarity Project.
Hundreds March in Um Salamuna
March 2nd, 2007
Today over 300 people from the village of Um Salamuna gathered after friday’s prayer and marched down the settler road between Efrat and Tekoa settlements to their land. As they marched Palestinians, Internationals, and Israeli demonstrators blocked settlers’ cars and Israeli military jeeps in protest of the confiscation of their land for the construction of the Annexation Wall. People in the march celebrated when Rashid Mahmoud Takatka who was arrested while blocking the bulldozers last tuesday, drove up to the demonstrators, having just been released from prison. The people of Um Salamuna and the neighboring village of Wadi an-Nis, along with International and Israeli activists, have been confronting the bulldozers on their land for the last 4 days.
Today, When the people reached the land that was bulldozed last tuesday, members of the Um Salamuna city council spoke about the need for resistance to the Annexation Wall and to all of the Israeli Occupation. Mahmoud Takatka, a member of the city council who was arrested on this land last tuesday, spoke about the hundreds of dunums of land the surrounding villages will be losing and the home nearby which will be completely surrounded by the Wall. He also spoke of the need for unity between people and political parties to fight for freedom from Occupation.
A member of the Israeli movement Ta’ayush spoke about the need for Israel to end its “policy of war” and work towards a free and just Palestine. An international representative from PSP spoke briefly about the work of internationals and what a privilege it is to stand next to Palestinians as they resist the Israeli Occupation and struggle to maintain possession of their land.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi from the political movement Mubadara, or the Palestinian National Initiative, was also present and spoke about the need for Palestinians to come together to resist the Israeli Occupation in all of its forms.
Woman and children collected uprooted olive trees that had been destroyed by the Israeli Occupation Forces last tuesday and carried them back with them as the people marched back to their village. Though the Israeli army became more aggressive as they tried to drive the people off the road, and at one point opened the car door of a passing Palestinian driver, there were no arrests or injuries.