Palestinians, Israeli forces clash over separation wall
Dozens of Palestinian Christians have clashed with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank over resumption of construction work on a separation wall that meanders through Palestinian territories and isolates large swathes of them from areas where Israeli settlers are concentrated.
On Wednesday, the protesters, who were joined by a number of foreign activists, converged on Beit Jala town, located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of al-Quds (Jerusalem), to express their resentment over Israel’s renewed work on the barrier in their area.
Israeli forces scuffled with demonstrators as they chanted anti-Israeli slogans. One demonstrator was arrested as he tried to plant an olive sapling in front of Israeli military forces.
Three Roman Catholic priests were also stopped when they tried to offer their prayers among olive trees that Israeli bulldozers and mechanical diggers were attempting to uproot.
The demonstration came only two days after Israeli bulldozers uprooted scores of olive trees in the Bir Onah area of the Palestinian town, and then leveled the ground as part of plans to resume constructing the separation wall.
The resumption of the construction work came despite the fact that Israel’s Supreme Court had ruled in April that such work had to be halted in Beit Jala, which lies near the illegal settlement of Har Gilo, and ordered a reconsideration of the structure.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli bulldozers demolished a number of residential buildings in an area populated by Palestinian Bedouins in East al-Quds.
Witnesses and local Palestinian residents said the bulldozers, which were escorted by Israeli forces, demolished structures belonging to more than 20 families from the Jahalin Bedouin community in the Khan al-Ahmar area.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967.
Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds, and the besieged Gaza Strip and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.