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Al Ma’asara and Umm Salmuna: Non-Violent Struggle Against the Wall

The other side of the wall.

It’s been 42 years since Israel occupied the West Band and the Gaza Strip and two generations of Palestinians have been living without rights in their home land. The situation has remained far from static as the settlements keep growing and Israel’s grip on this highly controversial piece of land has tightened, morphing at times into an iron fist which sends a message to anyone not willing to accept their facts on the ground: Don’t fuck with us!!

Violence holds center stage in clashes between Palestinians and Israel, with the latter taking 1400 Palestinian lives in the most recent round of bloodshed in Gaza. Violence has been Israel’s main response to the Palestinian armed struggle and the Palestinians have used terror as a tactic to try to reclaim their taken land.

In this midst of all the fighting, however, and in the shadow of the separation fence being built over large portions of their land, many Palestinian villages have been choosing the non-violent route as a means to fight the occupation.

Umm Salmuna and Al Ma’asara are two Palestinian villages just south of Bethlehem in the southern section of the west bank. They are bordered by many Israeli Settlements and in 2007, the path of the separation fence started snaking its way on to their agricultural land, cutting off vineyards, olive groves and the like from their respected owners. Like many sections of the fence, the barrier surrounding these villages deviates almost 10 kilometers away from the “Green Line”, the recognized border between Israel and Palestine, according to international law. The neighboring settlements, annexed by default and constantly expanding, lurk not far behind.

These two villages formed their own popular committee and started what was too be a long running non-violent struggle against the wall. Every Friday, local residents hold a protest in front of the fence and demand that their lands be given back to them. Palestinian Israeli and international solidarity activists join the popular committee in their struggle and although they’ve had to endure tear gas, arrests and other form of violence from the Israeli Army, non-violence has prevailed. It’s been said that not even one stone has been thrown during the past two and a half years of the struggle.

When visiting Israel or Palestine, visit Al Ma’asara and Umm Salmuna in their struggle against occupation and apartheid and see a side of Palestine which isn’t normally portrayed on the news.

Yonah Adelman