Dozens of Palestinians accompanied with international supports setup a protest tent in the Ush Ghrab area of eastern Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem on Sunday. The action, which was organized by the Popular Resistance Committee in Beit Sahour, aims at stopping the planned construction of a settlement in the area.After the Sunday mass, dozens of worshippers along with international friends arrived at the site and started setting up a tent, and cleaned the area of rubbish.
Israeli soldiers, who have been stationed in the area in a military tower setup since 2010, arrived at the scene but did not interrupt the youth.
The area was under Israeli military control following the 1967 occupation of the West Bank until the Israeli military unilaterally decided to abandon the area in 2006.
The municipality of Beit Sahour immediately started rehabilitating the area to turn it into a public park and recreational place for children and families.
In 2008, Israeli settlers, motivated by an settler organization named “Women in Green” started to organize activities in the area, that they call Shdema, in order to build a Jewish settlement. The settlers are supported by a number of Knesset members such as Arieh Eldad and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdore Liberman, both of whom live in settlements.
The protest tent is setup 200 meters away from the hilltop where the settlers are planning to build the settlement, as Israeli troops have not allowed Palestinians to reach the hilltop since 2010, when the tower was setup.
On the other hand, settlers motivated by Women in Green come to the hilltop every Friday and hold lectures and other kinds of activities.
Another protest by Palestinian residents of Beit Sahour last week ended without clashes with the soldiers, although they refused to allow them to go up the hill.
The Popular Resistance Committee in Beit Sahour said on its facebook page that they are going to have an ongoing protest in the area to prevent the construction of the settlement on the hilltop as it threatens the security and the only natural civic expansion of the city, in addition to the threat it poses against the Peace Park setup by Beit Sahour municipality since 2006.