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Israeli army shuts down anti-wall rallies

Oct. 29, 2010 8:45 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 30, 2010 6:54 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shut down rallies across the West Bank on Friday held to protest the illegal annexation of Palestinian land by Israel's separation wall.

An Israeli army spokesman said soldiers used riot dispersal mechanisms at simultaneous protests in Ni'lin and Dir Nizam near Ramallah, and Umm Salamuna near Bethlehem.

Four injured in Al Ma'sara

In Al Ma'sara, near Bethlehem, soldiers prevented demonstrators reaching the construction site of the wall, firing tear gas canisters and sound grenades to force protesters back to the village. Rally organizers said four demonstrators were hit by rubber-coated steel bullets, and a foreign national was detained.

An Israeli military spokesman was not aware of any detentions in Al Ma'sara, but said one protester was arrested and transferred to Israeli police in nearby village Umm Salamuna.

A wedding was being celebrated in the village, and the party joined the protest. However the bride was prevented from reaching the wedding as Israeli forces installed checkpoints and barbed wire at village entrances.

The demonstration was held in solidarity with Palestinians living in Umm Al-Fahm, home to the largest Palestinian community inside Israel. A far-right rally in the city on Wednesday led to fierce clashes with police, who fired stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinians protesting the march.

Norwegian officials protest in Bil'in

Norwegian politicians Torunn Kanutte Husvik and Stine Renate Håheim joined protesters in Bil'in, a village in the Ramallah district which has held non-violent anti-wall demonstrations for more than six years. Israel's separation wall annexed around 60 percent of village land to build illegal settlements.

Bil'in protest leader Adeeb Abu Rahmah was recently sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by a Military Court of Appeals, the latest in a series of trials against high-profile anti-wall campaigners. On 11 October, protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and order to pay a 5,000 shekel fine.

The sentence was internationally condemned. An EU statement said "The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal. The EU supports the key role of human rights defenders in promoting and furthering of human rights."

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