A Catholic monastery and convent in the secluded Cremisan Valley outside Bethlehem lost a seven-year legal battle against the construction of Israel's "separation barrier" across its land on April 24. The wall will surround the convent and primary school on three sides, confiscating most of its land. A small gate will be built to allow nuns and monks to access the Salesian Monastery and Convent in order to "guarantee their right of freedom of religion." The gate will also allow farmers and landowners to access their lands on the other side of the wall, although they will need permits to reach them.
Long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi on April 17 called for "rage and solidarity" to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day. "Greetings to all without exception. I urge all the noble people of our Arab and Muslim nation as well as the free people of the world to turn April 17 into a day of rage and solidarity with Palestinian prisoners," Issawi wrote in a letter sent through his lawyer from his hospital bed. "The voice of those heroes who have sacrificed and are still making sacrifices for the sake of the freedom of their people and land, and in defense for Muslim and Christian holy places in the holiest spot on the globe, should be heard."
For a fourth consecutive day April 5, young Palestinians in Hebron clashed with Israeli troops in protests over the death of an elderly prisoner in Israeli custody. The fiercest clashes took place in Bab al-Zawiya neighborhood in the center of Hebron April 4 after the funeral procession. Young protesters hurled stones, empty bottles and fire-bombs at Israeli troops who in turn used rubber-coated bullets and tear gas canisters. At least 20 protesters were injured. Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, died April 2 at Israel's Soroka Hospital. Although he was diagnosed with cancer in January, it apparently went untreated; according to his lawyer, Rami Alami, he was only given painkillers and antibiotics. Palestinian officials charge that Israeli authorities refused to treat his cancer, ultimately causing his death. (Ma'an News Agency, April 5; Ma'an News Agency, Daily Beast, April 4)
Such a perverse historical irony. Israel's draconian restrictions on freedom of movement in the occupied West Bank provide the circumstances for religious ritual and political protest to converge seamlessly, as Palestinian Christians' attempt at a Good Friday procession in Jerusalem is perforce converted into a demonstration for rights and dignity. The Romans provided the template for a universal metaphor of oppression in Palestine 2,000 years ago. The new Romans became, over time, Byzantine Greeks, Seljuk Turks, Christian Crusaders, Mamluk mercenaries, Ottoman Turks, British colonialists—and now Jews. Can this possibly be good for the Jews? From Al-Monitor, March 29:
Israeli forces surrounded but did not ultimately attack the Ahfad Younis protest camp estabished by Palestinian activists outside Jerusalem during Obama's visit to Israel and the West Bank. But as Obama moved on to Jordan March 23, two Palestinian youths were critically wounded as Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets on protester at Anata north of Jerusalem. Several people suffered from tear-gas inhalation. Five people were also injured in the Ramallah area village of Beit Liqya during a protest against Israel's separation wall. (Maan News Agency, Al-Monitor, March 22)
Israeli forces on March 20 surrounded a new tent village erected by Palestinian activists in Eizariya east of Jerusalem. An Israeli military spokeswoman said hundreds of Palestinians established "an illegal settlement" and that security forces were in the area "to maintain order." She said soldiers arrested the driver of a truck loaded with equipment including tents. Mohammad Khatib, a spokesman for the activists, said soldiers handed protesters a document declaring the area a closed military zone. "We are staying. We are Palestinians, and we will stay here. They will have to evacuate us. They will have to use their power to do it, but we will not do it by ourselves," Khatib told Ma'an News Agency. "We are staying here because this is Palestinian land. This is our land, and no one has a right to evacuate us."
Hundreds of people took to the streets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Feb. 25 in the second day of protests following the death of a Palestinian prisoner who PA officials say died as a result of torture. The PA Minister of Detainee Affairs said that results from an autopsy of Arafat Jadarat's body indicate that he died after being tortured in Israeli custody, and not from a cardiac arrest, as Israel's Prison Authority had claimed. Hundreds of people marched from Birzeit University and gathered outside Ofer prison in Ramallah, where Israeli forces fired rubber bullets at the crowds, injuring 11 people. An Israeli army spokeswoman said "500 rioters hurled rocks, firebombs and burning tires at Israeli forces, who responded with riot dispersal means." Six people were hit by rubber bullets, she added.
Residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa will appeal next week to Israel's Supreme Court to halt construction of a highway that is to divide the district, community activists said at a press conference Feb. 18. Work on the six-lane artery, an extension of the north-south Begin Expressway, is sparking opposition in Beit Safafa, a quiet, middle-class Arab neighborhood that lies among Jewish areas in southern Jerusalem. Aluminum walls along the construction site are covered in graffiti against the expressway, with slogans such as "Don't run over Beit Safafa." Said Mohannad Gbara, a lawyer for residents: "The road in its current format cannot go ahead. It would be a disaster for Beit Safafa."