The Israeli military attacked, oppressed Palestinian demonstrations against the Wall and settlements this weekend. Israel continues to confiscate land and restrict Palestinian building while encouraging settlement construction. Is a third Intifada around the corner?
On Friday May 25, dozens of residents of Bil’in and international supporters were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation after Israeli soldiers attacked the weekly non-violent protest against Israel’s Separation/Annexation Wall and settlements.
After the Friday midday prayers, protesters marched while chanting slogans against the Wall and settlements from the center of the village toward the lands returned to village residents following an extended legal battle in Israeli courts. Israeli soldiers stationed behind the Wall fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets on the marchers. The army also sprayed the protesters with toxic waste-water mixed with chemicals.
Dozens of residents, as well as Israeli and international supporters, required medical treatment.
In the village of Al Ma’sara, near Bethlehem, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals marched, chanting slogans against the Wall, settlements and the occupation while heading toward the lands confiscated by Israel. Israeli soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets.
On Saturday, Israeli forces attacked the anti-Wall march in Beit Ummar, located to the north of Hebron, beating participants with batons and preventing them from reaching the lands south of the village, near the settlement of Karmi Tzur.
Also on Saturday settlers shot Najeh al-Safadi (22) from Orif, south of Nablus, after armed settlers from Yitzhar set fire to vast tracts of cultivated land and destroyed hundreds of olive trees and other crops.
Weekly protests against land confiscations and the Wall occur in villages located in Area C, under direct Israeli control, or immediately adjacent to it. Villages in this area are particularly vulnerable to military and settler violence and their lands are confiscated either for construction of the Wall or for expansion of the settlements.
According to Haaretz, Israel’s Civil Administration issued 13,000 demolition warnings against Palestinians accused of unlicensed construction in Area C of the West Bank. The newspaper also stated that Israeli authorities intensified construction restrictions on Palestinian citizens in the villages and towns of the West Bank, seeking to prevent them from building.
A report by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which described the situation in Area C in 2009, claims that while severe restrictions are imposed on Palestinians in Area C, Civil Administration procedures facilitate the proliferation of settlements. Currently the Israeli government is engage in a process to legalize settlement construction on Palestinian private lands, which the Israeli High Court of Justice prohibited.
Analysts and political activists claim the ongoing escalation of Israeli policies against Palestinians may lead to a third Intifada. The head of the Palestinian Authority Preventive Security Apparatus, Major General Ziad Hab Al-Rih, stressed, however, that the PA needs to “work hard in order to deter and suppress any attempt for launching a third Intifada, during the coming months.”
Major General Ziad Hab Al-Rih also expressed concern for the deteriorating situation in the region and said that without progress in the peace talks, the PA won’t be able to preserve stability within its territories.
* This article was published by The Alternative Information Center (AIC)