A protest demonstration spearheaded by Salfit-based Palestinians and supported by internationals and Israelis in the solidarity movement will be held in the village of Rafat on Thursday, March 30, the 30th commemoration of Land Day. Demonstrators are meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the primary school in Rafat.
Since 1976 the Land Day is marked by Palestinians to protest against the grabbing of Palestinian lands by Israel.
Recently, Rafat and the adjacent village of Deir Ballut have been the site of demolitions and access restrictions. While the construction of the Apartheid Wall in the area has winded up, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) have issued demolition orders and restricted access to pasture and olive groves on the east side of the Wall. Bulldozers are flattening part of the hillside for unknown purposes.
In 2003 and 2004 the Salfit region, particularly the villages of Deir Ballut, Azzawiya, Rafat and Mas’ha, was the center of mass actions against the building of the Apartheid Wall. While not stopping the building of the Wall completely, the resistance of the villages resulted in the High Court ordering the re-routing of the wall in mid-2005. Still, Rafat lost all but 500 dunums of its land.
Rafat is adjacent to the 27-settlement bloc of Ariel, the largest Israeli settlement network in the West Bank after Greater-Jerusalem. The demo will be held two days after the Israeli elections on Tuesday, March 28th. As he campaigned in Ariel last week, Kadima frontrunner Ehud Olmert pledged to supporters that "the Ariel bloc will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel under any situation."
The Wall around the Ariel bloc will stretch for 114 km and grab within it 120,000 dunnums of prime aquifer-laden agricultural land of Salfit, which produces about 30 percent of the West Bank’s olive oil production. The Apartheid Wall dips farthest from the Green Line here and deep into the West Bank by about 22 kilometers.
For more information/Press Pack on Rafat and the Deir Ballut enclave, contact:
English: International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) at 09-2516644 (before the day of the demonstration) or 052-02598264 (at the day of the demonstration)
Arabic: Nasfat Khofash (Popular Committee Against the Apartheid Wall) 052 2337257