Israel plows farms paving way for apartheid wall extension in Bethlehem village
[ 26/07/2011 - 05:01 PM ]
BETHLEHEM, (PIC)-- Israeli bulldozers began early Tuesday morning plowing through ''vast'' Palestinian farmlands and uprooting olive trees to pave the way for an extension of the apartheid wall in Al-Walaja village in western Bethlehem province.
Tensions envelop the village as Israeli soldiers have suppressed locals, reporters, and dozens of outside supporters who emerged to help stop the operation, locals said.
Protests managed to foil the operation for a few hours until heavy back-up arrived at the scene.
Locals said over sixty olive and pine trees were torn down in the excavations.
Palestinian sources reported spotting Israeli forces closing off one area of the village after attacking reporters covering the incident and activists from Spain who arrived to support the locals.
Elsewhere, an Israeli planning committee has notified locals in the Malih area of northern Jordan Valley that it would tear down dozens of local structures, including shacks and nomadic tents.
The structures were built allegedly without permits on what the Israeli army has declared a military zone.
The committee officials handed out a total of 35 notices, a local has told our correspondent.
''The occupation (Israel) aims at evacuating the Jordan Valley of its indigenous population for the sake of expanding settlements in the area,'' said local activist Mohammed Daraghema.
7 arrested at Al-Walaja village demonstration
(updated) 28/07/2011 11:52
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained 7 people taking part in a demonstration in Al-Walaja village on Wednesday morning.
Ala Ad-Deras, member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, said that soldiers detained 7 activists, including 5 internationals.
Agricultural land belonging to the village, situated in northwestern Bethlehem, was also destroyed, he said.
Israeli forces initiated aggressive behavior against participants in the demonstration, leading to clashes between both sides, Ad-Deras said.
The two Palestinians detained were identified as Mazen Qumsiyeh, an activist in the popular committees, and Shireen Al-Araj, a member of the popular committee against the wall.
Israeli forces also reportedly bulldozed agricultural land belonging to the village on Tuesday, uprooting dozens of olive and pine trees.
Awad Abu Sway, a spokesman for the agriculture ministry, said bulldozers razed a road leading to a 5,000-year-old olive tree. The road's construction was funded by foreign aid, he said.
The official said Israel's actions in the village amounted to war crimes.
"These procedures are considered a [type of] racial discrimination and a theft of Palestinian properties for the sake of the settlers, ignoring that it’s an illegal occupation state," Abu Sway said.
"Therefore, it doesn’t have the right to own the natives’ properties."
Residents of the southern West Bank village are overwhelmingly refugees, driven from the historic Al-Walaja, located just across the valley from the current population center.
The village was, in 1948, the second largest land area after Jerusalem but was cut down to one third the size when Israel declared statehood that year.
Now a border village, Al-Walaja is edged on its eastern flank by an expanding bloc of settlements and is being reduced in size by the path of Israel's separation wall which annexes between two and three kilometers of village lands from the pre-1967 border.
"justicewheels on Jul 27, 2011
This is what happened in Al-Walaja village on 27 July 2011. In this clip you will see the oldest and largest olive tree in the Bethlehem district. It is in the path of the apartheid wall being built to separate villagers from their land. You will see apartheid soldiers behaving well like apartheid soldiers. You will also see US-funded Caterpillar equipment in action.
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