A group of around thirty protesters, including Palestinian, Israeli and international supporters of a Palestinian family whose home was recently demolished, were evicted Saturday from a protest tent they had set up on the family’s land in the village of Umm Salamuna, near Bethlehem.The protest tent was set up on Saturday morning, and within a few hours, Israeli troops arrived on the scene and forced its removal, along with the removal of the demonstrators who had gathered to support the Abu Ayyash family, who were recently removed from their home.
Umm Salamana has been the stire of numerous forced evictions in recent years, as Israeli troops have moved in to construct the Annexation Wall on village land.
According to the activist group ‘Stop the Wall’ in 2011, “The separation wall’s route spans 1.5km in length through the village of Umm Salamuna. Although the curb seems small, its construction has been an ominous devastation. Already 152 dunams of land has been confiscated and destroyed. This is land that was once used for olives trees and grape vines. Over 30 families have been affected by this confiscation, impacting approximately 200 people. For these families their income was once received through farming this land. For many, now their income is zero.”
The land confiscation and destruction of homes led to a rise in protests and non-violent resistance in the village, which is located near the Efrat settlement. According to ‘Stop the Wall’, “The community first became aware of the fate of their village in 2005 when surveyors from the Israeli Civil Administration came to survey the land. It is at this time the villagers started to demonstrate. The community would come out and try to block the surveyors from accessing their land. For more than a year the villagers tried to impede the surveyors from accessing the land.”
In Saturday’s action, organizers with the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements stated that the protesters are trying to demonstrate the commitment of the Palestinian people to their ancestral land, as well as their steadfastness, which the organizers say cannot be destroyed or displaced by the construction of settlements on their land.