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First-Hand Reports

Land Day in Beitunia

By Perla and Gabriel
International Solidarity Movement
March 30, 2004

Female Israeli peace activist who was hurt after Israeli soldiers attacked the protestors, lies on the ground with an Israeli soldier standing over her.
Female Israeli peace activist hurt
after Israeli soldiers attack protestors.
Photo: Luay Abu Haykel
(Click photo to enlarge.)

For the past ten days bulldozers have been working in Beitunia, a town of 20,000 people four kilometers southwest of Ramallah. The path of the Apartheid Wall will confiscate 17,000 dunums (four dunums equal one acre): 2,000 dunums will be used for the construction of the Wall itself while 15,000 dunums will fall on the other side of the Wall. This stolen land consists of olive grooves, wheat fields and grape vines. The town will be left with 9,000 dunums, which represent the built-up area of the city. Beitunia is being robbed of the entirety of its agricultural land. In the past Beitunia lost about 1,000 dunums to a military outpost, 2,000 dunums to the settlement of Givat Zeev, and another 3,000 dunums to bypass roads – roads that the Palestinians are not allowed to drive on.

Beitunia decided to hold a demonstration today, Palestinian Land Day, at noon to protest against the theft of their land and to stop the on-going Wall construction in the community. About 150 Palestinians joined by 20 international and Israeli activists marched through town to the construction site. The bulldozers were not working but soldiers were present guarding the equipment. The protesters walked up a hill towards the soldiers. After some initial rubber bullet shots and stone throwing, the protesters reached the soldiers guarding the bulldozers. At this time more Israeli military jeeps arrived bringing the total number of soldiers to approximately 25. A peaceful sit-in ensued with demonstrators chanting songs and waving Palestinian flags. After 30 minutes the organizers decided to walk back to the village. An Israeli military jeep began to follow the demonstrators; several Israeli activists stood in front of it, but the jeep continued to drive forward almost pinning down the activists. One Israeli activist was pushed upon the hood of the jeep as it sped down and up the hill. As he got off the jeep, the demonstrators attempted to verbally engage the Israeli soldiers. However, this attempt led to several physical confrontations between the demonstrators and soldiers, who responded with sound bombs and rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse the crowd. As the demonstrators retreated, roughly a dozen soldiers charged after them aiming their weapons and firing dozens of rounds. When the protesters dispersed to the next hill on the edge of town, the soldiers fired tear gas canisters from their weapons and continued shooting up the hill.

Six people were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets including one international medical volunteer with the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) and several were treated for tear gas inhalation.

The residents of Beitunia were out today peacefully defending their land, and they were met by violent escalation on the part of the Israeli military. At no point during the demonstration was the safety of the soldiers or the military equipment threatened. The people of Beitunia were simply protesting for the right to be on the land they rightfully own and cultivate. Ghali, the owner of a clothing store, said that it was “a good demonstration, and that Beitunia will continue its struggle against the Wall.”

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Videos & Multimedia

Amnesty International Video:
Dina Goor, Yesh Din

3/20/2004 demonstration in Karbatha, Palestine – activists shot

Watch International Court of Justice’s Hearings on Barrier

UK Guardian Interactive Graphic on Wall

View footage from 2/6/2004 demonstration at Georgetown University, USA

View footage from 12/26/2003 demonstration in Mas’ha, West Bank—Israeli activist, Gil Ne’amati, is shot

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

MORE footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

News Without Borders 8/24/2003 Presentation on Israel’s Wall

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Additional Resources

Booklet – The Wall Must Fall

Documentary – The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands


International Court of Justice Ruling

Electronic Intifada on the Wall

Palestine Monitor on the Wall

Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance

Charter of the United Nations


Stop the Wall

Americans for Middle East Understanding

End the Occupation Coalition

Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

International Solidarity Movement

Secular Peace Groups

American Muslims for Palestine

A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Sabeel – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center

Friends of Sabeel, North America

More Religious Peace Groups

International Humanitarian Groups Condemn the Barrier

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch

World Council of Churches


International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative

Oxford Public Interest Lawyers

The National Lawyers Guild

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