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WATCH: Christian, Muslim Palestinians protest separation wall route

Days after the army uprooted Palestinian-owned olive trees to pave the route of the separation barrier in Beit Jala, Christians and Muslims from the town hold a joint protest to try and put a stop to the plan.

By Oren Ziv

Hundreds of Muslim and Christian Palestinians protested Sunday morning in the West Bank town of Beit Jala against the future establishment of the separation wall that would cut them off from Jerusalem.

Dozens of Christian and Muslim Palestinians march against planned route of the separation barrier, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Dozens of Christian and Muslim Palestinians march against planned route of the separation barrier, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protesters marched Sunday toward the work zone where the wall is route is being paved, just days after the army uprooted dozens of ancient olive trees to pave the route for the wall last week.

Palestinians try to take apart an Israeli checkpoint in the city of Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians try to take apart an Israeli checkpoint in the city of Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The demonstrators marched toward the area where the trees were uprooted, and began destroying a checkpoint that prevents farmers from reaching their land in an area that, upon its completion, will be on the “Israeli” side of the wall. Border Policemen arrived on the scene and shot stun grenades and tear gas. At least three of the demonstrators were evacuated by an ambulance. The demonstrators took pieces of the checkpoint back with them to the village.

Palestinian demonstrators take apart and carry parts of an Israeli checkpoint during a demonstration against the route of the separation wall, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian demonstrators take apart and carry parts of an Israeli checkpoint during a demonstration against the route of the separation wall, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Father Paolo from the Catholic church in Beit Jala, told +972 Magazine: “We are here because they are building a wall that will separate Beit Jala from Jerusalem. We came here to say that this is our land, and that we are against the wall and for living together in peace. All the churches in Beit Jala are opposed to the building of the wall, and we are here to tell the army — get out of here, this is not your land.”

Father Paolo from Beit Jala's Catholic church carries a piece of a checkpoint, during a Muslim-Christian protest against the planned route of the separation barrier, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Father Paolo from Beit Jala’s Catholic church carries a piece of a checkpoint, during a Muslim-Christian protest against the planned route of the separation barrier, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“The goal of the wall is to close off Beit Jala from all directions,” says Salah, who arrived from the village of Ni’ilin, near Ramallah, to take part on the protest. “They took the land, the trees, and the livelihood, and have punished the residents here for no reason. We have come here to send a message, that we can defeat these walls when we, the Palestinian people, are united. Both Christians and Muslims.”

In the past, Israel’s High Court of Justice has recommended the state reconsider the planned route of the separation barrier in the area, as it seriously affects the residents of the area. The Defense Ministry, however, began its work on the wall last week, without altering its route. The ministry has promised to leave a 200-meter gap in the wall near the local monasteries, out of a total of 1,500 meters that are slated to be built in the area.

A Palestinian man carries a young woman after Border Policemen broke up a demonstration against the planned route of the separation barrier, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian man carries a young woman after Border Policemen broke up a demonstration against the planned route of the separation barrier, Beit Jala, West Bank, August 23, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The plan is to completely enclose Bethlehem and the surrounding villages — closing all entrances to the area — by the separation wall. Entire areas of the separation wall have yet be built, including in southern Jerusalem; they are slated for completion in the coming years.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      As Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, authors of ‘Lords of the Land’ make clear, the “security fence” that snakes through the West Bank is an unparalleled land grab. It was “constructed with no reckoning and no logic other than the purpose of enclosing as many settlements as possible on the western, Israeli, side and dividing up and seizing Palestinian lands.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Benny is like a second hand car salesman who assures the buyer that the used car has been regularly serviced but forgets to tell the buyer that a major fault was found in the last service check which is still there…

        He constantly tells only half the story. Yes there is occupation and yes bad things happen. But the occupation exists because the Arabs refuse to sign a peace deal and that the wall has been built because of the relentless suicide bombing campaign which the Palestinian Arabs waged against our civilians during the second Intifada between 2000 and 2004.

        Benny also forgets to mention that the Intifada was part of Arafat’s response to Ehud Barak’s peace offer at the end of 2000.

        Reply to Comment
      • Wedding Singer

        What cracks me up is that you truly believe you’re the smartest guy in the room.

        Reply to Comment
        • Terry Huffman

          So far as I have seen that holds true.

          Reply to Comment