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Report on Beit Surik Action
by Lisa
Relayed by email
June 5, 2005

For pictures from today`s demonstration in Beit Surik See:

In a demonstration in the West Bank village of Beit Surik 60 Palestinian villagers accompanied Israeli and international activists marched from the village to a construction site of the Annexation Wall near the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Adar. Men and women of all ages from Beit Surik and surrounding villages gathered on the land slated for destruction. As did Mustafa Barghouti head of the `Mubadara` party, and ministers of the Palestinian government Hatem Abdel Kader from the Legislative Council and Ahmed Majdalani, the Minister of State.

Israeli Border Police, mounted on horses, and Israeli soldiers on foot surrounded the demonstration in an area where Israeli contractor bulldozers had begun uprooting olive trees earlier this week. No map or confiscation orders have been presented to village officials regarding the land in Beit Surik where the demonstration took place today. An Israeli Supreme Court ruling previously prohibited construction of the Wall in this area. The demonstration successfully prevented Wall construction in the immediate area for the day.

The men from the village prayed their afternoon prayers on the land. The protestors then held a sit-in on the recently razed area amidst uprooted and mutilated olive trees. During their sit-in the demonstrators watched the grim progress of bulldozers destroying several other areas of Beit Surik`s agricultural crops of grapes, nuts, olive trees, and citrus.

At about one o`clock the military commander declared the area a closed military zone and ordered the demonstrators to retreat 30 meters back toward the village. The women and men from the village retreated some distance back into and olive grove, again sat down, and remained on the land. Members of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committee handed out cotton swabs with alcohol to the demonstrators so they could protect themselves from tear gas which soldiers were seen preparing to use to disperse them. However, it seems the presence of Israeli and international media prevented the soldiers from using force against the non-violent and peaceful demonstration.

After the demonstration ended, villagers received reports from the village that `mista`avim`, Israeli undercover agents dressed as Palestinians, had entered Beit Surik and abducted three boys, two fifteen year olds Issa Salah Kandil, Basem Yasser Alshriq, and one 17 year old, Talit Raddad who is mentally disabled and suffers from Williams Syndrome. Talit was released with on 3,000 shekels bail several hours later but detention of the two boys has been prolonged for another four days.

Today, the 6th of June, large forces of soldiers and police closed off the area and prevented demonstrators from reaching it while the destruction continued.

Tomorrow June 7th at 10:00 AM the Mayor of Beit Surik will stand trail in the Military court in Ofer Military base. He is being charged with assaulting an border police officer. Witnesses claim that when Villagers gathered on their land in an attempt to protect it from being leveled by Israeli bulldozers Mayor Kandil approached the Israeli soldiers in an attempt to deescalate the situation. The soldiers responded by arresting him.

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