Israeli troops fired tear gas and concussion grenades on Sunday midday at a Mass held by residents of Beit Sahour, a city neighboring Bethlehem in the southern West Bank.
Israeli troops fired tear gas and concussion grenades on Sunday midday at a Mass held by residents of Beit Sahour, a city in the southern West Bank.
Residents from Beit Sahour, along with international supporters, gathered at the evacuated Israeli military base of Ush Ghrab east of the city. People held banners demanding the halt of the recently renewed Israeli construction at the site, and called for the end of settlement activity around their city.
The former military base at Ush Ghrab was abandoned by the Israeli army in April 2006, and part of the site was transformed into a public park and centre for the residents of Beit Sahour by the city’s municipality.
The municipality of Beit Sahour has been prevented by the army from converting the rest of the area into a children’s hospital serving all southern West Bank, as they had planned to do. Two years ago settlers announced that they were planning to erect a settlement at Ush Ghrab and called it Shdema.
Last week, the Israeli army came back to the old military sitte and started to bulldoze land and put in military installations.
Today’s action was organized by the Popular Committee to Defend Ush Ghrab. People stood near the military site and started to hold a Sunday Mass, when Israeli border police troops attacked them with tear gas and sound bombs. Among the people affected by the gas were children and elderly.
No one was seriously injured; residents walked back and promised to come back every Sunday, after soldiers announced the area as a closed military zone. Seven military jeeps loaded with troops were involved in stopping the Mass on Sunday, according to witnesses.