The initiative ‘Praying is Resisting’ of joint action between Stop The Wall and Kairos Palestine saw its first activities in occasion of the World Week of Prayer held from September 20 -26 under the theme “"God has broken down the dividing walls". The first two initiatives both took place in Bir ‘Ona, neighborhood of Beit Jala, the past weekend.
On Saturday morning, around 8:30 a.m. around 50 people gathered together with Michel Sabbah, former Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, to pray under the bridge situated at the entrance of the valley, which the Israeli Occupation Forces confiscated at the beginning of last August, for the construction of a new section of the Apartheid Wall. No Israeli military attacks were reported that morning, unlike what happened the next day, Sunday 20th September 2015.
Around 200 people gathered in Bir ‘Ona on Sunday morning. Among the participants where Atallah Hanna, representing Kairos Palestine, as well as representatives of the political parties, such as the Coordinator of the National and Islamic parties, and the representatives of Stop The Wall and the local Popular Committees.
The demonstration marched towards the construction site on the Palestinian confiscated land, where a number of speeches were held. Stop The Wall encouraged the protest: “In light of the continuous ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, we as popular resistance are promising to continue our struggle until we end the occupation and overcome Israel's colonial apartheid system. We salute the international solidarity for their continuous support and the extraordinary efforts in building the global BDS movement. We are particularly proud to start our common efforts with Kairos Palestine on the path to liberation. We will work together on awareness raising and campaigning to gain international solidarity. While we are gathered here, we know that all across the world people and churches are praying and organizing in support of our rights and hope that this will be an important contribution in order to activate churches and faith-based organizations on a common path for justice”.
After the speeches, the protestors moved towards the gates installed by Israel to cut off the people from their fields. The area was militarized and a large number of soldiers were stationed in the area, safeguarding the heavy machinery at work behind them. Almost immediately the crowd was attacked and dispersed by showers of Israeli rubber bullets and tear gas. The clashes lasted for around two hours. One protestor was badly injured in the leg and in the hand by a rubber bullet while two others suffered from severe suffocation provoked by the tear gas and had to be quickly taken to hospital.