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Soldiers detain 2 for blocking work on separation wall

Nov. 13, 2011 1:35 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2011 5:08 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained two men in Walaja village near Bethlehem on Sunday morning, after residents gathered to stave off a planned explosion by the army to blast a route for the separation wall.

Around 30 villagers gathered on the route where Israel is constructing the separation wall around Walaja, when Israeli troops doused them in pepper spray, witnesses told Ma'an.

Forces detained Palestinian-American professor Mazin Qumsiyeh and Walaja resident Mustapha Awda, villagers said.

Construction crews carried out the blast shortly after.

The army confirmed that Israeli border police had arrested two men. A border police spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Last week, a series of explosions rocked the village to carve out the planned route of the wall and were captured by photographer Anne Paq.

The construction work is for the illegal separation wall planned to encircle Walaja, which abuts an Israeli settlement outside Bethlehem, cutting off the village from other parts of the occupied West Bank.

As well as mounting legal challenges to the route, Walaja residents hold regular demonstrations against the impact of the wall.

When the 435-mile barrier is complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the occupied West Bank. In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that the separation wall was illegal and "tantamount to annexation."
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