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WATCH: Demonstrators block settlement junction in protest against the occupation

On Friday, Palestinians and internationals blocked the Gush Etzion junction in the southern West Bank, the central entry point leading to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, halting traffic for 15 minutes. The action sought to highlight the restriction of movement experienced by Palestinians on a daily basis throughout the occupied Palestinian Territories. One activist was arrested.

By Alon Aviram

An Israeli policeman attempts to repress a joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration against the occupation, Gush Etzion junction, November 9, 2012.
Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

“I came to protest against settlement expansion and the occupation”, said Muhammad from Al-Masara village. He added, “this sort of demonstration can on a social level, encourage people of all backgrounds to protest against the occupation.”

An Israeli policeman arrests an Israeli activist demonstrating against the occupation, Gush Etzion settlement, November 9, 2012.
Photo by: Oren ZivActivestills.org

Gush Etzion has a population of approximately 70,000 residents. Similarly to all settlements in the West Bank, it is considered illegal under International law. The Israeli government disputes this. This particular settlement bloc is connected by 60 km of roads reserved solely for Israeli vehicles.

Moreover, there has been an increase in settler violence in recent months throughout the entire West Bank. Some of these incidents have occurred in the Gush Etzion area, including the firebombing of a Palestinian family. A nonviolent protest last month against the local Rami Levy supermarket, part of a chain which refuses to stock Palestinian produce, ended in demonstrators being beaten and arrested by the Israeli Army. According to some of those who attended yesterday, these factors inspired the demonstration.

Israeli soldiers attempts to suppress Palestinian and Israeli activists demonstrating against the occupation, Gush Etzion settlement, November 9, 2012.
Photo by: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

It quickly became apparent that security forces had received prior intelligence informing them of the planned demonstration. Military and border police vehicles were waiting at the protest site, and troops were quick to respond, forcing protesters on to the sidewalk and swiftly containing the crowd. According to Noa Shaindlinger, an activist from Tel Aviv, “similar actions have been increasing in frequency lately,” despite superior military might and a strict response to acts of civil disobedience. “This sort of action sends a message to the world. It sends a message to the Israeli community that we will refuse the occupation and so should they, we hope to encourage activists to come here and join us,” said Muhammad.

An Israeli policeman attempts to stop Palestinian activists from demonstrating against the occupation, Gush Etzion settlement, November 9, 2012.
Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Footage from the demonstration:

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    1. rsgengland

      Nice demo . Could have been in the UK .
      A bit of noise , attempts to stop traffic etc . No violence .
      DEMOCRACY at work . No attemps to repress the protest , as stated in the captions . Strictly velvet glove crowd control .
      If there were no International press ,it would not even have touched the radar , it was so minor .

      Reply to Comment
    2. This is a great idea for activity. But can Jewish residents apply the same when held up by suspected roadside explosives, affects of drive-by shootings and other acts of terror against civilian populace? We also get held up by IDF personnel but for different reasons.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Myron Joshua

      Too many mistakes and misunderstandings in this article.

      1. The 60km of roads are Security roads INSIDE the settlements where patrols can go in what we consider defense against possible attack. The roads (highway 60 and other roads connecting the settlements and villages in the area ARE all open to Palestinian and Israeli traffice.

      2. Rami Levi in Gush Etzion did not have a demonstration.. the demonstration took place in another branch of Rami Levi.

      It is true that during the past couple of years there has been an increase of acts of violence. After the last and worst incident (the firebombing of the Palestinian taxi) consiousness of the worstening situation has increased and is being addressed.
      Is this enough?
      Does it mean that there is not occupation? That, particularly, residents of Area C are not being severely limited in their ability build and maintain proper communities? Of course not.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Against occupation of what state?

        Reply to Comment
        • Myron Joshua

          People are living under occupation.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Kolumn9

      Very entertaining. When the police started asking for ID cards all the Arabs ran away. It also looked like the Arabs were heavily outnumbered by Israelis, internationals and the media people.

      Reply to Comment
    5. 6 years ago this would have been impossible. Available force was overwhelming, but neither side wished to escalte; the IDF and police handled themselves well. There was no repression here; it is elsewhere, in the social economy.

      But ask: would this play be possible without the international and media presence?

      People need to know, believe that they can speak or walk together before anything else can be done. To those who would entice us to laugh at those wanting to be heard, to have us laugh them off the stage–know existence is monopolized by none overlong.

      Reply to Comment
    6. DOGDAY

      The settlements have split Israel in two, fractured society and will end in Civil War. This will be the legacy of Likud in the history books. Shame on Likud, and all right wing fascist racists in Israel.

      Reply to Comment