Friday, January 04, 2008


Israeli and Palestinian activists attempted to block a highway today in protest of a system which disallows Palestinians use of certain roads. In fact, 312 KM of West Bank roads are currently forbidden for Palestinian use.

Today demonstration also was in response to an effort by Israeli settlers to build on land which is owned by Palestinians in and around Bil'in village.

The protest today took place on Road 443 (see adjoining map). The protesters were met with police force.

Road 443 is one of the main throughways of the West Bank . Its overall length is 25.5KM, 14 of which run through the heart of the West Bank. Since the year 2000 Palestinians have not been allowed use of the road. Approximately 40,000 Israeli citizens travel on it on a daily basis. Most of them are not settlers and probably don't even realize the significance of the road and that Palestinians are denied its use.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel says the prohibition on Palestinian use of the road is "an extreme and grave example" of what it calls "the State of Israel's publicly declared policy of separation and [illegal] discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin in territories under its control."

The Independent (UK) reports Israel argues that the prohibition is needed to guarantee the Israeli users of the road security. But the Israeli human rights organisation, Btselem, while recognising Israel's duty to keep its citizens safe, says the blanket prohibition "appears to be based on extraneous reasons, the most important being Israel's desire to annex, de facto, the area along which the road runs." It adds: "If Israel were only interested in protecting the lives of Israelis using the road, without annexing the area, it could limit or even prohibit the travel of Israelis on the road, and build other roads and provide other means of transportation to connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv."

The following is from IEMC News.

Four injured in Bil'in weekly demonstration

The inhabitants of Bil'in village, located near the central west bank city of Ramallah, conducted their weekly non violent demonstration against the illegal wall that is being constructed by Israel on the village land. They were joined by international and Israeli supporters.

Shortly after the Friday prayers, the protesters left the village and headed towards the land but were stopped by a razor wire blockade installed by the Israeli troops. As soon as the protest reached the blockade, soldiers showered the protesters with tear gas, rubber coated metal bullets and stun grenades. Four protesters were injured and taken to a nearby medical centre.

On Wednesday, a group of Israeli settlers tried to build a new settlement outpost on land owned by Bil'in villagers. Farmers from the village and their families got to their lands and tried to stop the settlers from installing the outpost. The armed settlers attacked the unarmed farmers and injured three of them. On Friday, Israeli troops removed the settlement outpost.

Also near Ramallah on Friday, Palestinians from the villages which surround the city, protested at the settlers road known as road 443 with international and Israeli supporters. The army attacked the protest with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber coated bullets and injured seven people.

Road 443 is a settler road that cuts through several villages located near Ramallah and the army do not allow the local residents to use it to get to the city. Only the illegal settlers living in the illegal settlements around Ramallah are permitted to use it to get to the occupied city of Jerusalem.

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