Thursday, August 25, 2005

Israel-Palestine, Immatin, Coalition against the Wall - Press release, 25.08.2005

A thousand demonstrators, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals protested the building of the stretch of Wall next to Immatin. "This is not a Security Fence, but a way to rob Palestinians of their land and add it to the Immanuel settlement."
"The route of the Wall penetrates 17 kilometer into the West Bank and usurpes a big part of the village's lands."
The organizers: "If the army abstains from provocations, such demonstrations can end without violence."
Some thousand demonstrators, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals held this morning a protest march towards the site where the "Separation Fence" is being built on the lands of Immatin village, located deep inside the West Bank at a 17 km distance from the Green line ('67 border). Previous demonstrations held in this area were dispersed by the army with much violence.

About 50 Israeli demonstrators, members of Anarchists Against Fences, Gush Shalom and Ta'ayush arrived at Immatin in the morning, ready to face army violence, and equipped with onions - this vegetable being an excellent antidote against tear gas. In the village center there awaited them a thousand Immatin residents, as well as a group from Bil'in - where an intensive struggle against the Separation Fence is going on for months - and also international volunteers, from America, Italy, Argentina and a group of French Canadians.

An army officer arrived at the spot in a jeep and told the village representatives that they had permission to march along the route of the Wall "on the condition that there will be no violence."

The demonstrators started to walk to the Wall site over a distance of three kilometres under the blazing sun, while raising their voices against the Wall and the settlements. Upon reaching the lined-up soldiers and army vehicles awaiting them they cried out "Take care, this is a non-violent demonstration". Thereupon they sat down in a circle, and Zahi Sowan of the Immatin Popular Committee spoke: "We have no other source of livelihood than our olive trees, which we inherited from our forfathers. Now you see here the withered remains of dozens of olive trees uprooted by army bulldozers, and on the other side of the fence are thousands of trees, of which we will be robbed. You see the factory belonging to the Immanuel Settlement, on the hill on the other side of the road. This factory was also built on a site where trees belonging to us were cut down. We hear that the state of Israel has dismantled the settlements in the Gaza Strip and Jenin area, but here they are expanding the settlements, making our lives bitter."

After him spoke Yonatan Pollak of the Anarchists. "They tell the Israeli public that this is a Security Fence. That is an outright lie. We are here 17 kilometres east of the Green Line, deep inside Palestinian territory. To our west there is already a fence. What is being built here is a fence within a fence. It has as its sole purpose to annex and widen the settlement and to imprison the Palestinians in a small enclave. That is an act of injustice which we oppose, and which is clearly a violation of international law and infringement of human rights."

Then was held a Muslim prayer on the site of the Wall, and after that the demonstrators returned to the village center - to disperse quietly, and orderly.

"In the media those who demonstrate against annexation and land-grabbing in the name of the Wall are depicted as a bunch of violent rioters, though the protestors, Israelis and Palestinians alike, come out non-violently against injustice and robbery. Today the army gave proof that, as long as it refrains from provocations, such demonstrations can end without any violent confrontation taking place" said Gush Shalom spokesperson Adam Keller, who had participated in the event.

"Could it be that the new criteria introduced by the army for the evacuation of settlers influence also the behavior of the soldiers here? If it would be like this again in Bil'in tomorrow afternoon, we may have a sign whether there really is a change of the army's attitude towards Israelis and Palestinians who protest the building of Walls on stolen land."

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