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Bethlehem: prayers and peaceful protest in bulldozed orchards

 Tomorrow at noon, villagers in the South Bethlehem region will gather for a prayer and march on the bulldozed land of Umm Salamuna. The action is part of the nonviolence resistance to the annexation and confiscation of their land for the Separation Wall and the nearby Israeli colony of Efrat. Israeli authorities plan to annex 700 and raze 270 dunums of agricultural land with olive trees and grape vines from Umm Salamuna. (One dunum is about 1,000 square metres). Confiscation orders have also been issued against neighbouring villages, which have already lost much of their land to the Efrat settlement, part of the ever expanding Etzion block. In recent weeks Israeli bulldozers have met with peaceful resistance from villagers as they intensify their destruction of village land. About one month ago villagers from Umm Salamuna threw themselves in front of bulldozers and suffered beatings from the Israeli Occupation Forces but managed to stop work. When the bulldozers and IOF returned to Umm Salamuna two weeks later, villagers again resisted this military might with their bodies and two suffered broken bones from rifle butt beatings. The villagers have vowed to defend their land with all the strength they have and appeal for international solidarity. According to Village Council President Mahmoud Rashid, "it constitutes their only source of livelihood, and no one will accept that the Wall is on their land isolating hundreds of dunams from each farmer and outright destroying at least a 200-meter wide strip of land". The protests will continue the following Friday afternoon, with cultural activities including theatre, poetry and Palestinian folklore. Source: ISM