Hundreds of Palestinians marched across an Israeli checkpoint in the northern West Bank to protest President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” on Wednesday afternoon.
Around 500 protesters gathered Wednesday morning in the Palestinian town of Tubas and crossed the Tayseer checkpoint between Nablus and the Jordan Valley, despite attempts by the Israeli army to stop them. While Tayseer checkpoint has been unmanned over the last few years, Israeli soldiers have been stationed there after the IDF ordered reinforcements in the run-up to Trump’s announcement.
The demonstrators marched for a mile toward agricultural land between Tayseer and the Hamam al-Malih community and began protesting in an area that had been declared a closed military zone for the purpose of IDF training. The soldiers who were training at the site were forced to stop and began folding up their equipment.
The protesters brought two tractors with them, which they used to plow the area, which belongs to Palestinian farmers. Last week, the army confiscated several tractors used for plowing. Border Police officers arrived at the scene and began dispersing the demonstrators with tear gas and stun grenades, as protesters sat down on the ground in an act of civil disobedience. The protesters headed back to Tubas at around noon, and the demonstration ended without arrests.
“All Palestinians are united in their message that the Jordan Valley is Palestinian land and will not be part of Israel,” said Waleed Assaf, who heads the PLO’s Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee. “Trump’s plan is a plan of war against the Palestinians. We are ready to live in two states, but this plan will eliminate the idea of the Palestinian state. It’s a declaration of war, not peace.”
Assaf said that he had come to the agricultural land because of Israel’s attempts to stifle Palestinian farmers in the Jordan Valley: “The army declared the area closed for training, but it is private Palestinian land. They have declared other areas [of the West Bank] nature reserves. This is an Israeli plan to get Palestinians to leave the area. But we will protect our people here, support them and continue to protect our people and our land, which will be part of the Palestinian state when we end the occupation.”
Since the nonviolent protests against the wall subsided over the last few years, many West Bank Palestinians have been speaking about the need for a new popular struggle that will challenge the occupation. According to Assaf, Wednesday’s action is only the first in a series of popular protests against Israel’s plans to annex the Jordan Valley.
Meanwhile, around 100 Palestinian and Israeli activists reached the Hamra checkpoint, located in the heart of the Jordan Valley. Soldiers and police blocked the area, as protesters marched in the mountains waving Palestinian flags. The soldiers tried to block them and confiscate the flags, but eventually allowed the demonstrators to march along the main road.
“We are here despite the attempts to stop us,” said Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, a well-known Palestinian activist from the village of Bil’in. “We started to walk in order to say that this is Palestinian land, that we will stand with the farmers and shepherds who live here and say no to the annexation of the Jordan Valley. We will continue to stand with them day and night.”
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.