More than 200 residents of Az Zawiya village, joined by 10 international supporters, confronted a phalanx of army jeeps and hummers today, as they tried to reach the land near the village school where the West Bank Separation Wall is being built.
Construction on the Wall resumed, despite last Wednesday’s court ruling halting work on the wall in other areas. Under a separate injunction from the High Court, work in Az Zawiya is allowed to continue in areas where olive trees have already been uprooted.
Led by elders of the village, the peaceful marchers sat in front of vehicles and refused to return to the village as they were commanded to do by the troops. Though they gave several warnings to the crowd to move back or be dispersed, the army did not fire tear gas or live ammunition as they have done many times over the last three weeks. Protesters remained on the site, about 50 meters from where the bulldozers were working, for almost two hours.
At one point, one of the soldiers seized a megaphone and said, ‘Listen up for a minute. Your war is not with us. It is with the courts.’ The assembled men shouted at him, ‘No, this is different. The court said you have to stop working here.’
Az Zawiya is one of three villages in the Salfit region that will be completely enclosed by the wall. When the wall is completed the villagers will lose 90% of their land. They will not be able to access their olive trees, which are now the main source of income for the area.
The construction in Az Zawiya village and the area there is against the agreement between Bush and Sharon which stats that Israel should not start building the wall around the settlement of Ariel.
In another incident, at least 300 villagers from Kufur Labad near West Bank of Tulkarem and International Solidarity Movement activists removed several roadblocks on the main route leading into their village.
On the other hand, villegers from Nazla Ash Sharqiya village near Tulkarem cleared another roadblock in the area.
Roughly seventy villagers, with an accompaniment of thirty international and Israeli activists, moved toward the obstacle that severs the route to nearby Baqa al Sharqiya, as well as to the major highway. The much-used road was about to be laid with asphalt when the roadblock was erected more than a year ago, not long after an earlier one had been removed. The previous block had been removed with the aid of a tractor, but this time a privately owned bulldozer would join the dismantling action.
The demonstrations and protests in Az Zawiya and the other villages and the removal of the road blocks, in the area come as part of the Freedom SUmmer Campaign launched by the International Solidarity Movement last Friday which is expected to last for 56 days and include several protests against the wall, checkpoints and the home demolitions in addition to rallies in support of the Palestinian Prisoners and the Palestinian Women.