Hundreds of Palestinians marched in solidarity across the West Bank, on Friday, in a call for an end to the Israeli occupation and in protest against the continued illegal confiscation of Palestinian land and expansion of Jewish-only settlements. According to Ma’an News Agency, protests took place in the southern West Bank village of Wadi Fukin, near Bethlehem, as well as in Nabi Saleh and Bilin villages, near Ramallah, in the central West Bank.
Dozens of Palestinians reportedly suffered the effects of excessive tear gas inhalation in Wadi Fukin after Israeli forces attempted to disperse a march near the village.
Demonstrators in attendance protested against a recent Israeli decision to confiscate 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of privately-owned Palestinian land, including a large chunk of the village itself, to expand Jewish-only settlements nearby.
Protesters began planting olive tree saplings in the eastern part of the village, but were subsequently assaulted by Israeli soldiers, according to Ma’an.
If Israel goes ahead with the decision to confiscate these lands, it would be the largest Israeli land grab in the West Bank since the 1980s.
Israeli forces also dispersed a weekly march in Nabi Saleh village, in northern Ramallah, with tear gas bombs and rubber-coated bullets, suffocating and injuring many.
Dozens of soldiers were reported to have been deployed around the village, earlier in the day, after Israeli forces declared it a ‘closed security zone’. Troops blocked the main road and forced locals to use unpaved, bumpy roads for travelling in and out of the village.
Protesters marched with Palestinian flags, chanting slogans and singing national songs calling for Palestinian unity, resistance against the occupation, the releasing of prisoners, and against the continuous and illegal confiscation of land by Israeli forces and colonial settlers.
Ma’an further reports that, since 2005, Bilin villagers have protested on a weekly basis against the Israeli separation wall that runs through their village on land confiscated from local farmers.
Previous protests by Bilin activists have forced the Israeli authorities to re-route the wall. However, large portions of village lands remain inaccessible to residents because of the route.
Israel began building the segregation wall in 2002, and the route has been targeted with regular demonstrations by residents of border towns whose land is severed by its path.