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(en) Israeli & Palestinian Media: Activists Protest Apartheid Wall

Date Sun, 14 May 2006 13:44:10 +0300


JERUALEM, May 13, 2006 (WAFA) -- 200 Israeli peace activists
approached the a-Ram checkpoint, along with Palestinians demonstrators,
protested Saturday against the Apartheid wall being built the West
Bank village of ar-Ram, north of Jerusalem. Gush shalom Israeli Peace
Group said the demonstration was even stormier than usual -- contrary
to the intentions of the demonstrators themselves.
The march was organised under the title: "No to Walls and
Checkpoints, Yes to Negotiation and No to Unilateral Convergence."
"It was carefully prepared as a non-violent protest," said
the Group. "The pupils of the elementary schools in their
school uniforms led the demonstration, with the smallest in
front. But to no avail: the army and police had decided in
advance to suppress the demonstration by force."

When the 200 Israeli peace activists approached the ar-Ram
checkpoint, it was already clear that they would not be
allowed to pass, it added.

Apart from the Gush Shalom activists, the action is also
joined by Ta'ayush, Bat Shalom, the Coalition of Women for a
Just Peace, the Committee Against House Demolitions, Machsom
Watch, Anarchists Against the Wall and the Alternative
Information Center.

Therefore they went around the checkpoint and broke through
the Apartheid Wall. Most of the demonstrators succeeded in
passing quickly through the breach, but some of them
remained on the Israeli side of the Wall and demonstrated there.

On the main road of ar-Ram, which is already divided by the
Wall, the Israelis joined the Palestinian demonstration
which was already on its way.

Right behind the massed schoolchildren, the leaders of all
Palestinian parties -- From Fatah to Hamas -- had formed a
line. Uri Avnery was invited to join and walked between the
Hamas legislator, Muhammad Abu-Tir, and the legislator,
Mustafa Barghouti, read a press by Guh shalom, next to them
was the Minister for Jerusalem Affairs of the new
Palestinian government, Abu Arafah.

Further on along the road, in the middle of ar-Ram, the
Israeli police and army had concentrated a large force.
"Rows of policemen blocked the road, with mounted policemen
in front and a large number of army Hummer vehicles behind,"
it added.

Seeing this, the organisers diverted the schoolchildren into
a side street, and the thousand demonstrators, men and
women, young and old, marched on towards the improvised
tribune that had been prepared in advance, still with the
line of party and organization leaders in front.

When they were still about 50 meters from the police line,
they were suddenly bombarded, without any provocation, with
a salvo of tear gas canisters. The road was covered with
clouds of gas. The demonstrators found shelter in adjoining
buildings, and thus Abu-Tir and Avnery found themselves
together in the guest room of one of the houses.

Some minutes later, when the gas had dispersed, the
demonstration went on, but it was attacked again and again
by the soldiers, Hummers and police riders. Ten activists
were arrested. (Much later, the three Israeli detainees were
released, but seven Palestinians remained in custody.)

The Group further said the attack lasted for two hours,
until senior police officers arrived on the scene and
contact was broken off.

The day before, policemen in Bil'in had shot two
international activists and a foreign photographer in the
head with rubber coated steel bullets. All three were
hospitalised.

It is also important to note that in this demonstration a
complete national unity of all Palestinian factions was
achieved.

Gush shalom added that it was decided with the Mayor of
ar-Ram, Sirhan Sleimi, that this event would be the start of
a campaign to protest against the monstrous wall that chokes
ar-Ram, cuts it off from Jerusalem and separates the pupils
from their schools (three have already closed) and the
workers from their places of employment.
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