WATCH: Israeli forces dismantle West Bank protest camp

Soldiers dismantle a protest camp built by Palestinians, Israelis, and diaspora Jews in the south Hebron Hills — less than 48 hours after it was built.

Video by Ahmad al-Bazz/

Dozens of Israeli soldiers dismantled on Saturday night a protest camp in the West Bank village of Sarura, which was established by Palestinians, Israelis, and diaspora Jewish activists a day earlier. At the time of the dismantling, around 80 people were there, roughly 60 American Jews and 20 Palestinians.

The camp, called “Sumud: Freedom Camp,” was built in the south Hebron Hills on the former site of Sarura, whose residents were expelled by Israeli forces between 1980 and 1998. The residents have been unable to return to their land due to a combination of military orders and ongoing violence and harassment from Israeli settlers. As a result, Sarura was completely depopulated from 1998 until Friday, when the village was re-established.

After nearly 48 hours of restoration work, soldiers came in without a military order and began taking the camp apart, disconnecting it from electricity and confiscating all the equipment. Meanwhile the activists chanted in English, “We will build this tent again!” “The whole world is watching” and “There is no other time, Jews must stand with Palestine!” Some also yelled out, “What will I tell me congregation about this back home?” and “What will I tell my Hebrew school students?”

No arrests were made, nor was anyone was forced to leave the camp. According to people on the ground, some were shoved to the ground, while and a few of the Jewish activists were punched. As of Saturday night, there was virtually no coverage of the event in Hebrew, except for on Local Call.

Palestinian, Israeli and international Jewish activists build a protest camp in Surara, West Bank, May 19, 2017. (Photo: Ahmad Bazz/
Palestinian, Israeli and international Jewish activists build a protest camp in Surara, West Bank, May 19, 2017. (Photo: Ahmad Bazz/

The action, linked directly to the 50-year anniversary of Israel’s occupation, took place in the shadow of a mass Palestinian hunger strike and protests taking place across other parts of the West Bank, in which dozens of Palestinians have been wounded, as well as President Trump’s visit to Israel on Monday. Israeli media essentially has ignored the story.

The encampment was organized by an anti-occupation coalition of groups, including the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, local Palestinian committees, Youth Against Settlements, the All That’s Left Collective, the Holy Land Trust and Combatants for Peace. Members of the Jewish American anti-occupation group, IfNotNow, also participated in the action.

While Palestinians in the West Bank have been engaged in nonviolent protests against Israeli occupation for many years, and Israelis have joined them in solidarity, this is likely the biggest delegation of diaspora Jews ever to come Palestine in order to engage in direct action against Israeli policies in the West Bank. The Jewish activists, primarily from North America but which included a handful from Australia and Europe, are challenging the Israeli occupation because they say it violates their Jewish values.