Todayâs march against the Wall in al Maâsara was once again preceded by a night raid in the village, targeting the coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign in the Bethlehem district. Yet, the rally attended by many Palestinian representatives, was an immediate message to the occupation forces that intimidation will not repress the people.
For the sixth time since the beginning of this year and the second time in April, Israeli Occupation Forces stormed the house of the Stop the Wall coordinator for Bethlehem district, Mohammad Brijiyah.
Last night, the IOF invaded al Maâsara at 1am, entering in 3 military jeeps, and raided Mohammad Brijiyahâs house. After breaking into his house, seven armed soldiers forced him out into the street, threatening him with arrest if the weekly protests in the village continued.
His home was attacked twice in the month of January 2010 and once in February 2010 and March 2010 respectively, and on each occasion the soldiers threatened Brijiyah with imprisonment if the popular resistance in the village continued, accusing him of inviting people to come out to the weekly marches, allegedly, to throw stones. Brijiyah on all these occasions pointed out that the people go out to the land which they own, which has been confiscated by the occupation forces, and that the people do not need anybody to call on them to go to their own land. Nevertheless, the occupation forces are continuing their threats and continue to break into his home and harass him and his family.
Soldiers have explicitly declared that their aim is âto wear him outâ, knowing quite well that these nightly raids do not only burden him, his wife and his elderly mother but as well his one and a half year old daughter and the two weeks old twins, who have to grow up in an atmosphere of continuous threats.
The occupationâs military court, that has heard his case after Mohammad had been arrested on May 1 2009, has given out an order preventing Mohammed Brijiyah from approaching the area close to the wall and from participating in the weekly protests. He will have to appear before the military court on May 10 to defend himself regarding the issue of his participation in the protests against the Wall.
Stop the Wall coordinator, Jamal Jumaâ, explained that these actions are methods of psychological terrorism practiced by the occupation forces against Palestinian human rights defenders, a policy of collective punishment of the activists and their parents in order to provoke pressure on them from their families. âHoweverâ, he stressed, âthese methods have failed historically and will fail to discourage leaders of the Palestinian struggle for their land and against the apartheid wall and settlements.â
In fact, the demonstration in al Maâsara this week was a large event with many participants. A number of Palestinian leaders came to the protest, held on the occasion of the Palestinian National Day of the Prisoner, invited by the Stop the Wall Campaign. The Popular Committee of al Maâsara declared todayâs rally a symbolic act to demonstrate to the occupation regime that the resistance in the village will continue and that the attempts to repress the popular mobilization through intimidation of members of the Popular Committee, and in particular Mohammad Brijiyah, will only strengthen their steadfastness.
The rally began as always in front of the village school and people then headed towards their land threatened by confiscation. The march was lead by boy scouts from Jerusalem and attended by Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, the Chief Justice of Palestine, Mohammad Hamida, head of the association of ex-prisoners in Bethlehem, Abdel Fattah Khalil, director of the Prisoners Club. Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi condemned the racist decisions and policies of the occupation forces. The director of the Palestinian Prisoners club, in turn, highlighted in his speech the need to apply the laws that protect prisoners of war and conscience and to defend their rights through continued mobilization of international solidarity to support the steadfastness of those in struggle. He further stressed the need for the Palestinian National Authority to make the question of the prisoners a top priority in their political agenda. The media coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign in Bethlehem, Awad Abu Sway, reminded the protestors that Prisoners Day coincides with the anniversary of the killing of Abu Jihad, the Palestinian leader killed on April 16 1988 in Tunis by Mossad agents. Abu Sway further underlined that the movement of the prisoners has always emphasized the necessity for unity in the struggle. The prisoners strike declared on April 7 in all prisons was the latest concrete expression of this call to the Palestinian political parties for unity and to address the issue of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Abu Sway also stressed the need to raise the issue of the suffering of the families of the prisoners and the long waiting hours and humiliating search procedures they endure when visiting their jailed family members with international delegations coming to Palestine.
A delegation of Greek activists participated in the march and was later accompanied by the Popular Committee in a tour around the village. They were briefed about the suffering of the people by members of the Popular Committee and listened while people spoke about the harassment they face during the constant incursions of the occupation forces into their homes, especially during Thursday nights. Now, the children of the village express fear every Thursday evening that raids to their homes will occur during the night.