On Thursday the Palestine Solidarity Project released information about yesterday’s events in Um Salamoneh village. The Palestinian village stands to lose 700 dunams of vital farmland to the construction of the illegal Israeli Wall and settlements. Israeli bulldozers started destroying the land on Tuesday. Palestinian farmers and villagers from Um Salamoneh and the surrounding area have been continuously protesting this action at the site, and have been joined by Israeli and International supporters.

On Thursday two Palestinians, five Internationals and six Israelis climbed upon a bulldozer while it was stationary and succeeded in preventing it from destroying the farmland. The non-violent protestors remained in place for two hours before Israeli troops forced them down. Another bulldozer was stopped when Palestinian, international and Israeli activists stood in front of it for some time.

Two international and four Israeli activists were abducted by the Israeli army and taken to Gush Etzion prison. They were released after a few hours on the condition that they do not return to the site of the non-violent demonstration for 15 days.

Updated from:
Israeli army bulldozers destroy farm lands near Bethlehem
Wednesday February 28, 2007 12:32 by Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC

Several army bulldozers resumed on Wednesday morning, destroying farm lands that is privately owned by Palestinian farmers from the village of Um Salamunah near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Farmers from Um Salamunah village and nearby villages of Wadi Al Niss and Al Ma’sara tried to stop the bulldozers uprooting their trees and destroying their land, which also their only source of income.
Side by side with Israeli and international supporters, the villagers managed to stop the bulldozers from working. Israeli soldiers providing protection for the bulldozers clashed with the unarmed protesters, using rifle butts and batons, no injures were reported.

The bulldozers were forced to leave the area, Mohamed Ibrijia, a local activist in the village told IMEMC. Ibrijia added that more Israeli army enforcements are being called in, but villagers are still in the construction Wall area in order to protect their lands in case the bulldozers come back. He expected that a stand-off between the army and the local villagers may occur later during the day.
Ibrijia concluded by encouraging residents of Bethlehem district and international supporters to head to Um Salamunah to help the farmers save their lands.

Several weeks ago, the Israeli army started uprooting trees and orchards in the area in order to construct the illegal Wall in the southern part of Bethlehem. The Wall will lead to the isolation of several villages south of Bethlehem, especially the villages of Wad Rahhal, Um Salmouna, Al Ma’sara and Wad Al Niss.

Um Salamuna stands to have 700 dunums of agricultural land annexed and 270 dunums confiscated for the route of the Wall. Ten villages surrounding Bethlehem stand to lose 70,000 grape vines and 1000 olive trees in total.