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Watch: Palestinians breach Israel's wall - again

Nov. 9, 2009 2:26 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 12, 2009 9:15 A.M.)
Ramallah – Ma'an – Marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Palestinian demonstrators breached Israel's concrete barrier near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

Reporting from the scene, Ma'an's correspondent said protesters, once they reached the other side, set fire to tires. Israeli forces also opened fire, the reporter said.

Around 100 demonstrators waving Palestinian flags and wearing fluorescent jackets reading, "We are going to Jerusalem," broke through near the Qalandiya military checkpoint, onlookers reported. A truck was used to pull down the concrete slabs making up the wall, according to an organizer.

Early reports indicated the demonstration was planned by the "popular committees" – local groups organized to oppose the construction of the wall – as well as the Fatah movement.

Last Friday, protesters in the village of Ni'lin also managed to tear down a section of Israel's separation wall. Residents of the village, like those in many towns along the route of the wall, participate in weekly demonstrations against the barrier and the associated annexation of their land.

Intended to be 709 kilometers in length, Israel had completed 413 kilometers of the wall by June 2009, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The barrier, in reality a network of walls, fences, watchtowers and checkpoints, snakes through the interior of the West Bank, looping around Israeli settlements and fragmenting Palestinian communities. In some places, the barrier reaches 22 kilometers past the 1967 borders and deep into Palestinian land.

The International Court of Justice ruled the separation wall illegal under international law in 2004. Israel maintains the barrier is for its security.

We refuse to be put in cages

One of the main proponents of nonviolent action, Mustafa Barghouthi, applauded the breach, stating that it was the natural outcome of failed negotiations to bring it down.

"This is just the beginning of a popular decision taken by Palestinians to demolish the apartheid wall because they refuse to live like slaves and be imprisoned in cages like what happened in South Africa," he said in an interview.

Barghouthi, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, added that more resolutions would be required to challenge Israel, such as establishing Palestinian institutions over Areas B and C of the West Bank, as they are considered Palestinian lands. He added that it was necessary to violate Israeli orders, stressing at the same time the importance of working to put an end to the separation wall.

Mushir Ghazzal, an organizer with the popular struggle coordination committee, said in a statement after the demonstration, "Today's events prove that we must not wait for Israel to end its occupation on its own – we Palestinians should do it with our own two hands.

"Like the Berlin Wall at the time, Israel's wall seems to us an undefinable reality, but twice this week it has caved in to the pressure of ordinary people fighting for their rights."
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