Israeli Wehrmacht’s violence against peaceful protest in Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen

A peaceful protest against Israel’s latest illegal land grab was violently suppressed by the Israeli occupation forces on the afternoon of 5 September.

What began as a peaceful march for the cultivation of land threatened with confiscation in the village of Wadi Fuqeen, situated to the west of Bethlehem, ended with Israeli soldiers using tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

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Wadi Fuqeen lies on the borders of historical Palestine, which was occupied in 1948, and the additional Palestinian territories occupied 1967. It lies almost exactly where Israel has announced its intention to confiscate a further 4,000 acres of land. Of these, around 1,000 acres will be stolen from the people of the village of Wadi Fuqeen.

The protest march began after noon prayers on 5 September with the participation of people and institutions from the village. It was led by the head of the Village Council, Abo Zaid Ahmed Sukkar. Taking part were other council members, as well as representatives of various institutions and political factions.

Also present were people from the Committee Resisting the Apartheid Wall and Illegal Settlements, in addition to dozens of international solidarity activists. The president of the Coordinating Council of the Supreme Resistance Committees, Munther Amira, also attended.

The march proceeded peacefully towards the land threatened with confiscation. People carried Palestinian flags and banners condemning the Israeli occupation and racism. Speeches were made in Arabic and English and they stressed that this land is Palestinian land and will remain so.

The head of the Village Council, Abo Zaid Ahmed Sukkar, told a reporter from Palestine News Network PNN (English) that this protest was the Palestinian people’s first effort to challenge the latest decision of the Israeli occupation authorities. He explained that people will now follow a series of other steps to counter the Israeli decision to confiscate huge tracts of Palestinian land.

He said that the village of Wadi Fuqeen will in future be besieged by Jewish shatter colonies and squatters – ending up as nothing more than an island surrounded by Jewish squatter colonies. He explained that the village currently only has 2,500 acres of land left, with more than 12,000 acres having already been stolen from the village before 1948.

He further explained that, if the proposed land grab goes ahead, Israel will steal about half of the village’s remaining 2,500 acres. The protest was a message to Israel that the people of Wadi Fuqeen will not be silenced on the theft of their lands no matter what happens, he said.

In turn, Munther Amira, who is the chairman of the Coordinating Committee of Supreme Resistance to the Wall and Settlements in the West Bank, told PNN that this event represented a message to the Israeli occupation that the Palestinian people rejected all forms of barbaric Israeli aggression, whether Israel was killing Gazans and demolishing and destroying the Gaza Strip, or whether it was confiscating land and expanding Jewish squatter colonies in the West Bank.

Munther Amira said the Palestinian people will continue to resist this aggression in all its forms, noting that Israeli soldiers were preventing citizens from reaching their lands and trees. They ought to realize that what they are doing was protecting a crime committed by their government, which is led by extreme racist gangs who are plunging the region into further turmoil.

Amira added that the residents of Wadi Fuqeen, Jab’a and Souria Bnaouha will be embarking on a legal challenge, raising objections in the High Court of Justice in Israeli, despite the fact that the occupation authorities are both judge and executioner, as well as the offender. Nonetheless, he said, it was necessary to pursue the legal case.

For his part, Sam Hamdan, from the town of Jab’a – an area from which the occupying forces wish to steal another 1,000 acres of territory – confirmed that the Palestinian people would continue to struggle for their homeland and their land. Hamdan stressed that this process is only the first in a series of events being planned in response to the Israeli decision.

The participants in the march planted many olive saplings in the area adjacent to the huge illegal squatter colony of Beitar Illit – which was built on land stolen from the town – in spite of the soldiers who then fired stun grenades, gas and rubber bullets towards the marchers and nearby homes.

The Israeli army sprayed pepper spray directly in the face of the head of the Village Council, Abo Zaid Ahmad Sukkar.

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