Every Friday there is a protest against the Wall, led by local Palestinians and joined by a number of International students and organizations. This non-violent resistance movement began two years ago in response to the confiscation of land by Israelis for the building of the Illegal Wall and expansion of settlements.
The protest takes place in Joret Al Shama, a village south of Bethlehem near the Israeli Efrat Settlement which lies on the Palestinian side of the Green Line drawn in 1967.
Approximately 35 Palestinians and Internationals gathered on Friday at 10am to show their support for the resistance to the expansion of the wall and the nearby settlement.
The crowd, made up of half Palestinian children accompanied by adults from the area along with several Internationals from various organizations and journalists covering the demonstration, remained orderly and peaceful.
Klaus, a 24 year old Sociology student from Denmark, who has been in the West Bank for 3 weeks with The International Solidarity Movement (ISM), attended the demonstration in order to show Palestinians that the International community supports the Palestinian cause.
He has been present at one other demonstration during his time in the West Bank where tear gas and sound grenades were used by Israeli soldiers against the civilians demonstrating. Fortunately the demonstration at Joret Al Shama ended without any action by the Israeli soldiers. ‘[The Demonstrations] show the resistance to this occupation which I think is very healthy’ stated Klaus.
The children, waving Palestinian flags, chanted phrases such as ‘Viva viva Palestine!” as 25 soldiers stood watch from various locations including the balcony of a Palestinian home across the road from the demonstration site.
The house belongs to Mousa Takatka. Each week before the peaceful protest begins; Israeli soldiers come to the door of the Takatka’s home and force the family to allow them to use their balcony to accommodate Israeli snipers. “Sometimes soldiers do not allow us to use all of our house,” said Mousa’s wife.
Last week they forced all the families to one side of the house. “They searched and ransacked the house. The army gave us no reason,” added her husband. When asked about the use of the Takatka’s balcony, Israeli soldiers claimed that they were securing the area for the demonstrations.
Though many Muslim families visit the mosque or spend time with relatives on Fridays the Takatka family must be home to ensure the security of their belongings. “We can't leave the house. We can't leave the house to the soldiers. Two weeks ago I was in the house alone; the soldiers stormed the house and entered without knocking or anything. I was alone. They came in and the door was not closed. The way they entered the house was not normal, the soldier was holding his hand in the ready-to-shoot position, he also had two other soldiers with him as if he was going to war,” said the wife. “She was surprised to see them in the house. They did not ask to go in, they just barged in,” added Mousa.
The family supports the demonstrations in spite of the hardship it causes them each week. Much of the land that surrounds their home has been confiscated by the Israelis. “We are with these protests, not against, we have lost 300 Dunoms of Land because of the wall. We have lived on this land for generations, I was born here,” explained Mousa.
As the family continues to support the demonstrations, actions of Non-Violence will continue at Joret Al Shama each Friday at 10am until progress is made in resisting expansion of the Illegal Wall and Efrat Settlement.