On Thursday evening, hundreds of Palestinians held a protest against Israeli illegal confiscation of their lands, including lands that belong to the Cremisan Monastery, in Beit Jala city, in the Bethlehem district.Shawkat Matar, one of the participants in the protest, stated that local scout groups, and a number of civil society institutions in the city organized the protest due to Israel’s ongoing violations of illegal settlement activities, and the construction of the illegal Annexation Wall in the Cremisan monastery, and its surrounding Palestinian lands.
He added that hundreds of Palestinians gathered in front of the Arab Orthodox Club in Beit Jala, and marched towards the illegally confiscated lands in Cremisan.
The protesters chanted against the ongoing Israeli occupation and violations, Israel’s ongoing settlement construction and expansion activities, and its illegal Wall.
A week ago, Father Ibrahim Shomaly, told the BBC that the issue here is not about politics, but about human rights.
“The Church must hear the people when they suffer, this is not about politics”, Father Shomaly told the BBC, “There are 57 Palestinian Christians families that will lose their lands, losing their lands means losing their hope”.
Israel’s Annexation Wall is planned to split the Cremisan monastery and valley into two parts; Gilo and the Har Gilo illegal settlements are on Palestinian lands on opposite hilltops, and Israel wants to ensure the Annexation Wall separates Beit Jala from the two settlements.
Israeli settlements and its Annexation Wall, built in the occupied Palestinian territories, are illegal under International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.
Israel claims that its Jewish settlements are “Israeli cities and towns”, and that the Annexation Wall is meant to “ensure Israel’s security from Palestinian attacks”.
But on the ground, the Annexation Wall is built in a manner that allows Israel to build and expand its illegal settlements in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
In 2004, the International Court issued an advisory ruling considering the Annexation Wall illegal, and stated that although it recognizes “Israels right to defend itself, the Wall was built in a way that violates international law.”
The Court said that the Wall, which runs deep in the West Bank, and occupied East Jerusalem, separating the residents from their lands, and isolating entire Palestinian populated areas, also violates Israels international obligations.
It called on Israel to dismantle the completed sections of the Wall, to compensate the Palestinians for their losses, and to render ineffective all legislative and regulatory acts it took after approving the construction of the Wall.
The court further called on Israel to compensate the Palestinians for the destruction of homes, businesses and agricultural lands, and to allow them to return to their lands and orchards, and to return all lands seized by the Wall.
It also called on all UN member states to perform their legal duties by not recognizing the illegal situation the Annexation Wall and settlements created in occupied Palestine, and to ensure Israel complies with International Law.
Israel strongly slammed the ruling, disregarded it, and maintained what its called “its right to protect its citizens, to build and expand its settlements”, in the occupied West Bank, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem.