The West Bank village of Beit Ommar has had a tough August, withstanding frequent Israeli military raids that see soldiers shoot tear-gas into residential areas and arrest Palestinian minors. Last Saturday, the month got even tougher for activists resisting illegal Israeli settlements and land confiscation.
The Israeli military repressed the Beit Ommar popular committee’s most recent demonstration on August 20. The Israel Defense Forces fired live ammunition and concussion grenades, arrested five people, and broke the arm of a member of the committee before they detained him.
(Watch video of the demonstration here):
The demonstrators, who protest weekly, were attempting to attempting to access Beit Ommar’s land near the settlement of Karmei Tzur and were also expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza, which until last night has been under a sustained air assault by the Israeli Air Force.
Israeli forces on Saturday used live ammunition to disperse a demonstration against land confiscation in Beit Ummar near Hebron, local officials said.
Popular committee spokesman Younis Arar said soldiers stormed the rally as demonstrators marched toward the illegal Karmi Zur settlement, built on Palestinian-owned land.
Arar said it was the first time Israeli troops used live bullets at the weekly protest in Beit Ummar. He added that forces assaulted several protesters.
Yousef Abu Marya, a popular committee member in Beit Ommar, was “brutally beaten” and had his arm broken by Israeli soldiers, according to the Palestine Solidarity Project, a Beit Ommar-based Palestinian-led direct action group. Last week, while I was reporting from Beit Ommar, Abu Marya told me the Israeli military broke his arm two times before, in May and July of this year.
According to an international activist with the Palestine Solidarity Project, the IDF refused to let Abu Marya see a doctor for at least eight hours.
Beit Ommar’s recent troubles did not begin on Saturday, though. As I reported for +972 Magazine last week, the IDF has raided the village of 16,000 five times during August:
A spate of Israeli army raids at night and arrests of young Palestinians have occurred since the beginning of August, shattering any hope for calm during Ramadan. While Israeli military incursions into Beit Ommar are common, residents and activists say that the number of raids and arrests that have occurred in August is particularly high. There have been five occasions this month in which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have invaded the village, three of them that have occurred this past week—and the month is not even half over.
Witnesses to the raids and local activists say that the Israeli army has been shooting tear gas, sound bombs and flares into residential areas—in some cases causing injuries—and have arrested fifteen young Palestinians under the age of eighteen this month. A landmark B’Tselem report recently released highlighted how common the arrest of minors is in the occupied territories…
The Israeli army’s repression in the village has not been limited to night raids, though. For the first time during the month of Ramadan, Beit Ommar residents and Israeli and international activists held a demonstration August 13, protesting land confiscation and the nearby settlement of Karmei Tzur. At the demonstration, IDF soldiers repeatedly pushed back Palestinian residents of Beit Ommar attempting to access their land near the settlement, which was declared a closed military zone. Beit Ommar is surrounded by six settlements, of which Karmei Tzur is one.
When the demonstration was over, one Palestinian, a forty-two year old man named Sakhar Abu Marya, was arrested and taken into a military jeep. Recounting the events later, he said that a hood was placed over his head, and that he was beaten by the soldiers. While he was interrogated, soldiers said that, while they would release him now, they would come to his house later and arrest him. Soldiers also brought out food and soda to mock Abu Marya, who is fasting for Ramadan. He was then dropped off at the gate of the Karmei Tzur settlement, without being charged with anything.