At around 1:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, scores of Al-Khader village residents, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, including children, supported by international and Israeli peace activists, marched to protest the apartheid wall that is being built on the village land.
The demonstration began with peaceful chanting from the protestors, calling on the international community to join them in the non-violent resistance against the wall, the Israeli state, and construction companies that are building the wall. A significant feature of today’s demonstration was the protestors’ idea to make kites and fly them near the construction site of the wall, which is located on the villagers land, and is also near to the settler-only road that connects Hebron to Jerusalem.
Israel activists along with local organizers assigned the kids to several groups and started building kites, while the army formed a line to prevent the demonstration from proceeding forward. The children present at the demonstration contributed to the nonviolent resistance struggle by painting slogans for peace and justice on the kites.
However, it quickly became impossible for the protestors to march forward due to the intensive Israeli army presence. One of the commanders declared the area a closed military zone and did not allow any of the marchers to proceed forward.
The demonstration ended peacefully, as the organizers decided to finish early due to the heavy presence of the army, as it was obvious that the army was intent to repress the peaceful demonstration with violence. Out of concern for the safety of the children, they decided to finish, but promised to return next week.
This demonstration is the tenth weekly protest that the villagers of Al-Khader, in conjunction with international and Israeli peace activists, have organized against the construction of the illegal apartheid wall. The wall is being built on land that was confiscated from the village. According to maps and actual constructions on the land, the Al-Khader village will lose more than 20,000 Dunams of agricultural land, which will be annexed to Israel. All civilians, including farmers, will lose all access to this land, not to mention another 200 Dunams of land that the wall is being built on.
The Al-khader village economy largely depends on farming and losing this land will seriously damage the livelihood of the local farmers. Also, finishing the wall means totally isolating Bethlehem from Jerusalem and the nearby Hebron area. In other words, upon completion of the wall, the entire city of Bethlehem will be encircled by the wall, as to become yet another open air prison in the occupied West Bank.