IDF forces arrest 12 people protesting for social justice in West Bank

Amira Hass, Haaretz, Aug 15, 2011

An IDF force operating in Jerusalem arrested 12 people protesting for social justice.

This is not the opening to some futuristic piece about an open military takeover of Israel. It happened last Wednesday in the southeastern part of the city, on lands in the village of Walajeh, which were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967.

The Etzion brigade commander, Col. Yaniv Alalouf, had earlier signed an order declaring a closed military zone, seemingly giving him a basis to arrest the protesters.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now and Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem checked and found that the map attached to the order also includes area within Jerusalem’s boundaries, and that the arrests occurred there.

Consequently, Col. Alalouf and his soldiers apparently committed a double violation: sealing an area inside Jerusalem, where they do not have jurisdiction, and arresting citizens inside the capital. The IDF spokesman: “The claim is being reviewed.”

About 25 protesters came from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Walajeh at 9 A.M. Wednesday and joined a similar number of protesters from the village, who were demonstrating against the separation fence, which is actually more of a wall there.

The visiting protesters are already familiar with the anomaly: Somehow, in 1967, some of the village lands were annexed to Jerusalem, though their owners remained West Bank residents.

In the 1990s they were designated illegal residents in Israel, because they lived in their homes or went to their fields. This absurdity was corrected in a lengthy legal battle, but now there are new absurdities.

The Jerusalem demonstrators came with their drums and pounded them, in the hope of waking someone up. Perhaps their mates in the Rothschild tents or the High Court of Justice judges, who had already reviewed the petitions against the route of the wall in Walajeh.

When construction is completed, the village and its 2,500 residents will be surrounded on all sides by an eight-meter high concrete wall. The only access to the road connecting them to Beit Jala will probably be through a gate manned by soldiers.

The village will be separated from most of its agricultural plots. People will get up in the morning and instead of olive trees and fields and the sunrise, they will see a wall. Instead of stone terraces along the ridge, deemed architectural-agricultural gems, they will see concrete. Instead of a village, they will be living in a pen.

Beyond the pen, on the village’s lands, neighborhoods for Jews only will rise and prosper.

To read the full article please visit Haaretz.

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