Yesterday over three hundred activists from Ta’ayush, The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Bat Shalom and others, joined with five hundred Palestinians in a joint demonstration against the separation wall built by the Israeli government in Abu Dis. Three months ago the state of Israel constructed the wall which isolates 60,000 Palestinian residents (the majority of whom have Israeli residency) from the city of Jerusalem.
The activists had to enter Abu Dis via the village of Eizariya due to a curfew imposed by the Israeli Army. The demonstrators marched through Eizariya swelling their numbers with village residents as they approached the roadblock near the wall, chanting the slogans :
* Demolish the wall of Abu Dis
* Build trust not walls
* End the occupation in Al –Quds
Demonstration leaders negotiated with the Army to get closer to the wall. However the army blocked the way again about fifty meters from the wall. The activists sat on the road and continued chanting slogans and protest songs in a peaceful manner. However the army fired tear gas and charged the crowd which scattered into the surrounding side streets. A few protesters then threw stones at the soldiers but were quickly disuaded by others. At least two people were struck by tear gas canisters, including a Red Crescent volunteer who required medical attention.
The activists then re-assembled at the roadblock and continued their protest against the wall. The event ended peaceably.
The Wall isolates Palestinians from their working environment, hospitals, pharmacies, schools, holy places and family relatives. Before the wall was built, cars were allowed to pass through the checkpoints. The way to Al Mukasad hospital then took only 5 minutes by car, whereas today the way to the hospital takes more then 40 minutes. Those who do not have the Jerusalem residency, have to drive 40 km to reach the hospitals of Ramalla (passing several checkpoints on their way). Many of the students at Al Quds University, which is located in Abu Dis, cannot reach their university. In our last meeting we were told about a funeral that could not take place in the family cemetery, as it is located on the other side of the wall. The bereaved family ended up burying their loved one elsewhere. In short, the wall creates more everyday absurd situations. The army declares that the purpose of the wall to ensure security to the residents of West Jerusalem, while it’s implications are aggravation of the everyday life of the citizens of East Jerusalem. Instead of security there is an ongoing frustration and despair. This wall is another symbol of the arbitrary cruelty of the occupation.