The attack on clowns in Ma'asaram - and more weekend demonstrations

In Ma'sara, about a dozen Palestinians joined by numerous internationals and Israelis, demonstrated against Israel's occupation of Palestine. The demonstrators were forced to stop their march from the center of the village towards its entrance when military jeeps blocked their way. Two soldiers stepped out of one jeep and told the demonstrators to disperse the demonstration, insisting that they step behind a white line that the soldiers have previously placed on the road. To make this clear, the soldiers went back to their jeep and together with soldiers in the other three jeeps began firing tear gas and shock grenades at the demonstrators. When the tear gas dissipated the demonstrators gathered again to hear a speech by one of the village residents, who then declared the demonstration over.
After the demonstration finished, a circus of two clowns arrived in the village to entertain the children. As the two clowns performed to a crowd of some fifteen young children, military jeeps stormed from behind the performers and barraged the children and the clowns with tear gas and sound grenades. The children were chased back to the village by the soldiers who proceeded to fire tear gas into the village's residential area.

In Beit Surik, a demonstration was called to demand access to the lands trapped behind the wall near the settlement of Har Adar. Those lands as well as the lands of the settlement belong to people from Biddu, Beit Surik and Qatanna. Access has become a particularly important issue now that olive harvest begins. Before the war on Gaza farmers were placed on a list prepared by the Palestinian Authority and were all let in. At the beginning of the war the permit system which was in effect in the north was extended to the Jerusalem area. From then on farmers needed to apply for a permit in order to get to their lands. Those permits are much harder to get and are only given to the person listed as the owner of the land regardless if he is actually the one working it or if he is even able to. The people of the two villages refused to ask for permits on the grounds that if they asked for a permit to work their lands the next thing would be that they need to ask for a permit to live in their own house.
The demonstration included a prayer on the road leading up to the lands. About 150 people from Beit Surik and Biddu came. A group of women from the women's club also came. Large numbers of army and border police were waiting even before the prayer started. At the end of the prayer people marched to the gate in the fence and demanded to enter. The army officers who were at the other side of the gate were not interested in the least in these demands. After about 30 minutes the officers lost their patience and about 20 soldiers crossed the gate and attacked the demonstrators. They seemed to want the demonstrators to give them a pretext to arrest and shoot them but the demonstrators were too disciplined and did not give such an excuse in any way. After another stand off of about an hour the soldiers declared that starting Sunday, land owners who show up will receive a permit and could work their lands. It is not clear if by that they mean a return to the old system and it is even less clear that the army will actually keep its word.


Some 30 internationals and 15 Israelis joined the local Palestinian demo in Bil'in against the wall and occupation. The demonstration started off non-violently, with demonstrators chanting, opening the wall's gate, placing a banner and flags on the fence, and spending time in the area between the fences. But after a few minutes the soldiers decided that a peaceful demo is not what they're after, so they started shooting gas.
For a while the gas dosage was relatively low, and the shabab threw few stones in return. But after the shabab had managed to return two unexploded gas canisters to their rightful owners and cover the soldiers in a cloud of gas, the soldiers barged in, with the usual accompanying flood of gas driving the demonstrators away.
The Irish delegation kept things lively with their singing and their long, round vowelled 'shout and roar', until after some more exchanges of gas and stones (with one demonstrator getting hit in the head by a stone) the demonstration was declared over and dispersed. The soldiers confiscated a banner, a Palestinian flag and an Irish flag. Are they planning a state reception for Nobel peace prize laureate Mairead Corrigan who's currently in Israeli detention?

The weekly demo in Ni'lin occurred in the end of a week which saw the acquittal of a protester who has been under arrest for the past seven months for made up charges. Around thirty protesters braved the heavy heat to march to the wall, and show their opposition to the theft of their land for the benefit of Israel's settlement. In the village's olive groves, several families were seen harvesting their olives. It is still not known who of the villagers who own land and olive trees over the wall will be allowed by the occupation authorities to access their land.
After the demonstrators voiced their protest to the soldiers guarding the fence, and a small number of the village youth threw stones over the fence and at the metal gate, a group of soldiers crossed the fence and the protesters retreated back to the village. No arrests or injuries were recorded.

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