Budrus: Hundreds march to plant trees
Thursday, January 22, 2004
For Immediate Release
Hundreds March to Plant Trees
[Budrus, RAMALLAH] Hundreds of Palestinians – men and women, old and young, Israelis and Internationals from at least 12 different countries* braved the pouring rain today and marched to plant olive tree saplings where the Israeli government has destroyed trees to build what it calls a "Security Wall." The aims of today's action were:
- To take back the land illegally and unjustly bulldozed for the wall (two weeks ago, a beautiful family olive grove)
- To call for the International Court of Justice in the Hague to rule against the Wall
- To show the Israeli Occupation Forces that the village will not stop their peaceful resistance, despite being shot, beaten and jailed.
Sixty Internationals and Israelis joined over 250 Palestinians and marched down to stand in front of the machines flattening the village's farmland for the path of the Wall. Upon sighting the crowd, the earthmovers digging up the land stopped working and pulled back. The villagers set to work planting 50 of the 500 olive trees (previously reported as 100) donated to the village by Rabbis for Human Rights. As the villagers were planting the trees on their land, the Border Police arrived and announced to the Israelis in Hebrew that Israelis had 15 minutes to clear the area so the Border Policemen could then "deal with the Palestinians". If the Israelis did not leave, they would be arrested. The villagers, not wanting their supporters and guests to be hurt, asked everyone to retreat for the day.
The villagers, having planted 50 trees today announced that they would not stop their resistance to the destruction and confiscation of their land and the attempt to turn their village into a walled-in ghetto. They thanked everyone standing with them and called on the international community not to turn a blind eye to this crime against humanity being executed in the 21st Century. "And we say to Sharon, `you may have the weapons to destroy our land and lives, but you do not have the weapons to destroy our spirit, and so we will not stay silent, and our friends will not let you destroy us silently", said one villager, Fayed Ahmed.**
Budrus and the neighboring villages of Nihilin, Qibbya, and Medea stand to lose 90% of their land to the Wall. The Wall is being built in a circle around these villages and there will only be one gate to let villagers in and out. In other villages where the land has been destroyed and the Wall completed, gates remain almost permanently closed.
Budrus village has managed to stop the building of the Wall through peaceful sit-ins on the land and the bulldozers. However, the response from the Israeli Occupation Forces has been extreme - over 60 villagers have been injured by rubber coated metal bullets, troops invade Budrus and open fire with live bullets, 10 activists are imprisoned (including young children), and women and children alike are beaten and heavily gassed at each demonstration. The organizers of the village's nonviolent resistance have been abducted from their homes in the middle of the night by the Israeli military.
For pictures from today's demonstration, please see: www.palsolidarity.org
For more information, please call: Ahmed (Arabic): +972-66-339-862 Max (English): +972-53-471-226 Huwaida (Arabic & English): +972-67-473-308
* Countries represented: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Japan, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, United States + Israelis
** Pseudonym used for purpose of protection.
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT