It was an early Spring day - warm and sunny. We started as usual from the village center towards the route of the separation fence. With placards. Chanting and sometimes even dancing. Palestinians from Bil'in and the region, internationals, anarchists against the wall initiative, and lot of media people. When we passed the last buildings of the village, we had a surrealistic vision: soldiers on the roof of a small house with a Palestinian flag high above them.... The usual provocation team that come to "invite" the village children to a confrontation of stones versus rubber coated bullets, tear gas and shock grenades. As usual, we continued to the blocked gate of the route of the separation fence. When we just arrived, the village people who do not like joint and nonviolent struggle, started immediately to throw stones - "inviting" the Israeli soldiers to start their assault which do not discriminate between the two kinds of demonstrators.
(Months ago, a kind of truce/agreement was arrived between the village popular comity for joint nonviolent struggle against the fence, and the people objecting to such mode of struggle. In that agreement that was most time kept, the stone throwers were supposed to refrain from throwing stones from among the other demonstrators before the state force start to attack us, or for 20 minutes or so if the army do not attack.)
After few minutes, the soldiers shooting rubber coated bullets and shock and tear gas grenades made the stone throwers run away, and they tried like previous Friday demo to force us to return to the village... But, we resisted. Shower of shock grenades and few tear gas ones, pulling and pushing people, and threats failed to make us go away.
We interfered with their shooting on the run away stone throwers and forced them to refrain from sniping or using any live ammunition.
When we decided to return to the village, we had to go around it or pass through the usual zone of confrontation between the stone throwing kids and the army. As the soldiers prevented as from going around that zone, we asked the kids for a short break so we could pass that zone with only little tear gas and shock grenades.
When we moved there we seen again the snipers and heard the commander order to change to plan b. that enable them to shoot more freely when Israelis are not there. Some Israelis lingered a short while to prevent this "plan b." and warned the kids from the snipers.
When we arrived at the village, part of us returned home and others traveled to the action against the separation fence in Um Salamuna.
Previous Friday demonstration and pictures in Um Salamuna: 19/01/2007 http://awalls.org/hundreds_demonstrate_against_the_wall_in_um_salamuna_near_bethlehem
Hundreds demonstrate against the Wall in Um Salamuna near Bethlehem
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in Um Salamuna today, to conduct the Friday prayer on lands recently bulldozed for the wall. They were joined by Israeli activists from the Anarchists against the wall initiative and by international activists who came to express their solidarity.
Fortunately, there were no bulldozers working on the village's lands today, and even the military stayed afar, on an overlooking hill.
pic: Villagers demonstrating against the wall in Um Salamuna
The demonstration passed with no incident, and was joined by farmers from 10 surrounding villages in the area, all affected by this segment of the wall.
pic: Villagers praying on their lands
Work on the wall in the area first began on January 2nd, when bulldozers arrived on the village's land for the first time, uprooting grape vines. That day the bulldozers were stopped by a handful of villagers who blocked them with their bodies.
On January 15th bulldozers returned to work in Um Salamuna's lands. Villagers quickly went down to the lands to try and stop their devastation, but were met by staggering violence, causing injuries to two people.
pic: Women of Um Salamuna demonstrating on their lands
The wall's path in the area will cut off 700 dunams of Palestinian land, leaving that land on the Israeli side. It will very likely be expropriated to expand the nearby settlement Efrat. In an area that is traditionally greatly dependent on agriculture for generations, the ten affected villages will lose 70,000 grape trees and 1000 olive trees
>> The invitation to the Um Salamuna for this Friday demonstration
You are invited on Friday 26th at 3pm to a wedding that will take place on land Bulldozed to make way for the Wall in the south Bethlehem village of Umm Salamuna. Residents of neighboring villages will attend the wedding where the couple will declare their commitment to each other and to the threatened land of the village. Mohammed Bregiah, 28, will be marrying Sunai Abu Raiyeh, 25. After the wedding villagers will give speeches vowing to resist the annexation and confiscation of their land.
A strip of land has already been razed for the Wall west of a number of Bethlehem villages, including Umm Salamuna. Umm Salamuna stands to have 700 dunums of agricultural land annexed and 270 dunums confiscated for the route of the Wall. The 10 affected villages stand to lose 70,000 grape vines and 1000 olive trees.
Last Friday villagers prayed on their bulldozed land in Umm Salamuna and appealed for international solidarity in their struggle to hold on to the land, which is a lifeline for the economy of these villages.
>> This Friday too there was no confrontation with the Israeli armed forces. There was only two army cars monitoring the protest activity from far away.