On Saturday August 13, 2011, a show of nonviolent popular resistance occurred in Al-Walaja village, west of Bethlehem. The Israeli army had mobilized in large numbers, anticipating the villagers’ weekly protest. They watched, but did not intervene as Al-Walaja landowners and supporters cleaned and pruned the olive grove that is slated for partial demolition and full annexation by the Israeli military.
At a protest earlier this week in Al-Walaja, troops arrested a dozen supporters, including Israelis who came to support the Al-Walaja villagers’ right to remain on their land.
The village of Al-Walaja, which was illegally annexed by Israel in the 1990s, is slated to be completely surrounded by the Israeli Annexation Wall, which is already the situation for a number of Palestinian towns and cities, including Sheikh Sa’ad and Qalqilia.
In addition to imprisoning 2,500 people inside a ghetto and separating them from their land, which is their only source of livelihood, the Israeli construction of the Wall in Al-Walaja is also slated to destroy the oldest living olive tree in the Bethlehem area, dated at between 3,600 and 4,000 years old.
Villagers who gathered on Saturday said that they are steadfast in their commitment to protecting and defending their land through non-violent resistance.
One villager, Abu Wajih’s, told his story to a supporter with a camera who filmed an interview with the olive farmer. All but two of Abu Wajih’s olive trees will be behind the wall, as will the old house where his wife was born and that belongs to his family. In the interview, he says that he appreciates help of people regardless of their religion and background.