Holy Land: peace campaigners arrested in protest against new wall

 Israeli police arrested three Israelis and two Palestinians during a peaceful protest against a planned low security wall near At-Tuwani on Friday. Police and soldiers were filmed assaulting several Palestinians. The proposed wall is an 80cm high concrete barrier on the north side of bypass road 317, 14 km long, from the settlement of Tene to the settlement of Carmel. Decisions are pending in Israeli high court cases regarding the construction of the wall and the confiscation of land to build the wall, submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove have documented workers surveying and preparing for the construction of the wall. The planned wall would prevent access for Palestinians south of 317 to larger population centres in the north, depress the local economy and accelerate the erosion of basic human rights for people in the area. CPT have carried out a survey on the impact the wall will have on the area which can be seen on their website. Palestinians from the village of At-Tuwani and neighbouring villages called the demonstration to protest the construction of the wall, and invited the support of Israelis and internationals. At 10.30am, Israeli police arrived in At-Tuwani, blocked the road near the clinic, and declared the area a 'closed military zone'; however the area of the zone was unclear on the map they showed to a member of Ta'ayush (an Israeli peace group). The villagers decided to begin the demonstration as planned at 11am, walking a different path to the road. The Israeli military tried to block the participants by driving a jeep onto the path, but the demonstrators continued around the jeep to the By-pass Road 317. The group were careful not to block traffic on the by-pass road, always moving to the sides of the road when asked by police. At around noon the soldiers and police ordered the demonstrators to disperse. Most refused to leave the area, and the police began selecting people from the side of the road and dragging them away. First, Israeli demonstrators were arrested; then the police and soldiers assaulted several village men. Soldiers and police repeatedly shoved away and pushed to the ground members of Ta'ayush and CPTers Maureen Jack and Diane Janzen as they tried to prevent the arrest of one of the Palestinians. Police arrested one of his brothers for trying to prevent his arrest, violently kicked another brother on the face after shoving him to the ground, and pushed his 75-year-old mother to the ground several times, kicking her hard in the stomach. The police claimed the Palestinian man was carrying a stick and hitting the soldiers and police, but Jack and Janzen were near the man throughout and can attest that at no time did he have a stick or hit anyone; video footage confirms that he was completely non-violent throughout. Police released the arrested Israelis later in the day, but are holding the Palestinians for 96 hours and are charging them with assaulting police officers. Source: CPT

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