While Israel was headed to the polls, Palestinian, international and Israeli activists protested Israeli construction in the E1 area of the West Bank near Jerusalem.
Text and photos by Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org
Palestinian, international and Israeli activists protested against Israeli plans to seize and build in the E1 area, which would cut off the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. Held on the same day as Israeli elections, the protest was aimed at attracting international attention to the progress of illegal Israeli construction and the planed displacement over 15,000 Palestinians and Bedouin communities living in 45 communities in the area.
About 10 activists managed to enter the construction area and climb onto Israeli bulldozers. Israeli soldiers shot tear gas and sound bombs at the protesters. Activists also tried to erect two protest tents but failed as Israeli forces soon closed off the area. A total of seven activists were arrested during the action and put in a closed construction container for two hours before they were taken in an army jeep. The Israeli activists among them were later released on bond, the Palestinians were scheduled to be brought to the Ofer Military Court.
One of the participants, Mustafa Bargouthi, general secretary of the Palestine National Initiative (PNI), said: “We don’t care about the Israeli elections whatsoever. We are here to prove that the struggle is the only way [to achieve] freedom.”
An Israeli activist from activist group Anarchists Against the Wall group, said: “I didn’t vote this morning because I don’t believe that we can change anything from inside an apartheid system.” She added: “I support my friends who voted for the Joint List, but I don’t believe they will succeed in the election.”
Another Israeli activist had a different opinion: “I voted this morning and now I’m in my second democratic duty for the day, although there is no real democracy in this country. Look at the protest; when people take part in a peaceful march to stop bulldozers working on their land, they get shot and arrested.”
In the last two months, Palestinians staged a protest tent in the area and termed it “Jerusalem Gate.” The tent was destroyed by Israeli forces and rebuilt by the Palestinian activists over seven times.