Palestinian activists cross Israel’s apartheid wall in protest

Dozens of Palestinian activists crossed Israel’s illegal apartheid wall in the West Bank on Friday near the Qalandiya checkpoint as part of a series of non-violent protest actions to demonstrate solidarity with Jerusalem.

Activists used makeshift ramps and ladders and cut through barbed wire to climb over the apartheid wall near Qalandiya military checkpoint, which is at least six meters in height.

The action was part of a campaign entitled #On2Jerusalem that was organized by the Popular Resistance Committees.

Tensions in Jerusalem have been running high after Israeli authorities’ decision to hold a vote on splitting the al-Aqsa compound despite the existence of a Jewish prayer area at the Western Wall immediately next door.

Several far-right Israeli members of the Knesset have entered the mosque complex in the past several months, drawing the ire of Muslim worshipers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.

Groups of Zionist settlers have also forced their way into the site, prompting clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. In October, at least 1,355 Zionist settlers, including the Knesset members, stormed into the al-Aqsa mosque compound without permission.

Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, an agreement with Jordan has maintained that Jewish prayer be allowed at the Western Wall plaza, which was built on the site of a Palestinian neighborhood of 800 that was destroyed immediately following the conquest, but not inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound itself.

Coordinator of the popular committees Salah Khawaja said they attempted to enter Jerusalem but were prevented from doing so by Israeli forces, who were heavily deployed in the area.

Israeli forces used live fire, tear gas canisters, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse the march.

Dozens of Palestinian activists also gathered near the village of Hizma carrying Palestinian flags and shouting slogans in support of Jerusalem.

Several youths were injured as Israeli forces opened fire at them to prevent them crossing the checkpoint. The activists managed to close the road, with Israeli forces preventing settlers from traveling to the area.

Dozens of activists also demonstrated by the entrance to the illegal Maale Adumim settlement waving Palestinian flags.

“They attempted to detain us for carrying Palestinian flags,” Khawaja said. “What we did today was to emphasize that we do not have a choice but popular resistance and clashing with Israel is a part of our fight to stop Israeli crimes against Palestinians.”

An Israeli army spokeswoman said there was an “attempt” to cross the wall, without providing further details.

On Saturday, a similar incident occurred as Palestinian activists affiliated with local popular resistance committees in the villages northwest of Jerusalem broke open a hole in the apartheid wall to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The illegal Israeli apartheid wall is in many places more than double as high and nearly six times as long at the German barrier, as it cuts across the West Bank to divide Palestinians from other Palestinians ostensibly in order to ensure Israeli “security.”

Israel began building the apartheid wall in 2002, and the route has been the target of regular demonstrations by border towns whose land is cut off by its path.

Israel has regularly confiscated large plots of Palestinian land in order to build the wall.

If the barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the apartheid wall was illegal and “tantamount to annexation.”

Critics believe the wall to be a part of “a land grab” designed to ensure that Zionist-only settlements built on occupied territory and housing around 550,000 Israelis will become a de facto part of “Israel” despite the lack of a peace agreement, securing control over confiscated land.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” in the now-famous Balfour Declaration.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada,” a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.

Source: Al-Akhbar English

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