On 1 May, people from the village of al-Masara and the neighboring villages in the Bethlehem area commemorated International Workers Day with a march in protest against the apartheid wall. The wall continues to encroach on their land and isolates their villages. The demonstration and International Workers Day festival was organized by the popular committees of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign in al-Masara and Bethlehem district, in cooperation with the Bethlehem branch of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).
Israeli occupation forces repressed the mobilization and fired on the crowd with tear gas, sound bombs and rubber coated steel bullets. Nine people were injured, among them the head of the PGFTU, Shaher Saad. Soldiers arrested Azmi Sheukhi from Hebron, Mustafa Fawagreh from Um Salamoneh and Muhammed Brajiya, Mahmoud Zawahreh and Hasan Brajiya, all members of the popular committee in al-Masara. They are still being held.
The events of 1 May are the latest of a strategy of escalation implemented over the last months by the occupation forces and which has lead to increased arrests, injuries and deaths among the coordinators and activists against the apartheid wall.
Several weeks ago, Basem Abu Rahmeh was shot and killed in the village of Bilin while last week, 37 people were injured in similar protests. Nilin suffers regular invasions and arrests. This Friday, occupation forces took over several homes as military bases. In February, occupation forces staged a full day raid detaining 75 youth and arresting 16. The occupation forces regularly impose curfews and other collective punishment measures.
International trade unions must act in the face of these attacks on trade unionists, workers and villagers.
The popular committee against the apartheid wall of al-Masara and Bethlehem district, the Bethlehem branch of the PGFTU and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign call upon trade unions across the globe to:
- Demand the release of the Palestinian activists arrested on International Workers Day.
- Raise awareness about the land theft and ghettoization of Palestinian communities through the wall and the grassroots resistance against it.
- Support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and promote concrete BDS actions to hold Israel accountable for its crimes and force it to respect Palestinian rights.
- Popular committee against the Apartheid Wall of al-Masara and Bethlehem district Bethlehem branch of the PGFTU
- Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign