Members of the town of Beit Sahour, along with members of the international community, protested at the site of former military base Osh Grab, on Wednesday, against work carried out at the site by the State of Israel. Israel claims that it wishes to build a new watchtower on the site.The workers, members of the Israeli military’s engineers, arrived at the site at 3:30 p.m. with two armored bulldozers and began excavating the site. Members of the local community came to the site at 5 p.m. to demonstrate, but were informed by the military that the base had been declared a closed military zone.

The document supporting this decision was written in Hebrew, only, and could not be confirmed by the locals in attendance.

At approximately 6 p.m. the military declared that work had been finished for the day, and both parties dispersed.

The residents of Beit Sahour are concerned that the military out post is an excuse, and that construction of a new settlement block will begin. Settlers groups have been calling for the construction of a new settlement, to be named Shdema, since 2008 and have been holding rallies, including the those to cultivate the land, as a symbol of their desire to occupy the area.

In April 2006, the Israeli military abandoned the base that was already established on the site. The municipality of Beit Sahour assumed control of the land and renovated the area, creating a public park.

Speaking to IMEMC, Dr. Mazin Qumsiya, a resident of Beit Sahour, stated,

“They claim that it’s about a watchtower that they want to construct, but the map of the watchtower is a different map to this area; it has nothing to do with this bulldozing. My fear is that they are either going to get back the military base completely, or that they are going to have a settlement.”