Friday, January 8 2010 Demonstration against the building of the fence and requisition of land in Masrah

Ta’ayush activists joined the weekly demonstration against the building of the fence and the requisition of land in Masrah, in the Bethlehem area. These weekly demonstrations have been taking place for 3 years with the participation of residents of the village and Israeli and International activists.

During the last weeks the army increased its attempts to stop the demonstrations in Masrah as part of the attempt to suppress by force the non-violent demonstrations in Palestine. Over the last weeks members of the Popular Committee received threats by telephone from IDF officers, warning them not to allow demonstrations during 2010.

In addition, on January 1st the army used a large force, shot at the demonstrators and even broke into the village at the end of the demonstration.

However, as in many other instances, the army’s attempts at suppression met with increased determination on the part of the demonstrators. Some 120 people arrived this week for the march. The demonstrators proceeded from the village centre towards their lands and were stopped on the outskirts of the village by a large force of soldiers and Border Police. Speeches were made in Arabic, Hebrew and English, condemning the continued occupation and in favour of non-violent co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians. These were accompanied by the singing and drumming.

The demonstration broke up after an hour or so and the demonstrators started to go back into the village.

This moment was exploited by the soldiers in order to advance into the village while throwing shock grenades at the retreating demonstrators. In spite of our attempts at persuasion, and in spite of even the smallest excuse for their behavior, the soldiers continued to advance and, with the help of jeeps, broke into the village, shooting all the time into the houses of the residents.

In spite of aggressive provocation by the occupying forces, the young people of the village showed remarkable self-restraint and not a single stone was thrown – to the chagrin of the soldiers, who, disappointed, were obliged to retreat from the village with threats that they would soon be back.