Twenty Israeli military vehicles stormed Umm Salamuna Village south of
Bethlehem to protect four military bulldozers. The bulldozers were
massive and there to bulldoze Palestinian land for Wall construction.
What they needed protecting from was the nonviolent demonstration that
farmers and residents began in order to save their land.
Hundreds of farmers rushed to the area, with people coming from
surrounding villages to advocate for the citizens of Umm Salamuna in
defending the land.
Village resident Mohammad Brijeh alerted the local media to what was happening at 11:00 am on Tuesday.
Quickly, confrontations began as the people refused to allow Israeli forces to destroy the Palestinian land. Fist fights and scrambling, rifle butts and fire were the Israeli responses to the farmers.
Six Palestinians were injured, including 70 year old farmer Mousa Mohammad. Israeli soldiers beat him in the head with clubs. He was wrested away by fellow demonstrators and rushed to a neighboring village's medical center for treatment. Twenty seven year old Amer has bruises all over his body and internal injuries due to a violent beating with clubs and rifle butts.
President of the Umm Salamuna Village Council, Mahmoud Rashid, said that the Israelis intend to overtake 700 dunams of this area for the Wall. "The land is planted with trees, grapevines and olives, which is all for the families of the village, with a population of about 1,000 people.”
The Village Council President reiterated a sentiment becoming more common in international, and even in some Israeli, discourse. “Israeli forces aim to confiscate more Palestinian land with this Wall. Their claim that it has anything to do with security reasons is false.”
After half an hour of Palestinians putting their bodies in harms way to stop the land confiscation, the Israeli bulldozers did stop. A group of people created a human chain, holding hands and facing the bulldozers.
A woman raised her hands skyward and prayed for protection of the land “from these malicious plans. They want the land without the people, and we prefer to be buried in the mountains by the bulldozers than to see the land leave our hands and be overtaken by the settlers.”
Farmers were visibly ecstatic when the huge bulldozers halted the destruction. Eighty year old Mohammad Issa was wearing a coat and head cover to protect himself from the bitter cold. He leaned on a stick and cheered on the others to resist, encouraging citizens to not back down, to "move forward into the face of Israeli forces that aim only to destroy."
Elderly Mohammad said, “We are defending our land full of olive trees and grapevines. We will not allow for the Wall that eats our lands.”
When PNN approached him, he said that this is the land where his mother gave birth to him eight decades ago while collecting wood. “My birth and life is here, where the olive trees are planted. How could I leave? I prefer death than to see the Wall eat this land.”