A group of Palestinian protesters blocked the entrance to the settlement of Elazar south of Jerusalem Monday.
Thirty-five Palestinians and foreign activists blocked the entrance to Elazar, in the Etzion bloc, causing a traffic jam until security forces arrived and arrested three protesters, the coordinator of the Popular Committee to Resist Wall and Settlement in Bethlehem Mohammed Brejiyeh told the Palestinian News Network.
He added that the protest demonstrated the Palestinians’ rejection of the settlers’ presence in the West Bank and that they will continue to rally in opposition to Israelis’ presence there and the confiscation of Palestinian lands for settlement construction.
Brejiyah also alleged that the security forces assaulted the protesters.
The IDF spokesperson’s office told The Times of Israel that there was a demonstration at Elazar, but the protesters agreed to leave when ordered to do so by security forces. It was not aware of any arrests in the incident.
The activists claim that the settlement was built on land that belongs to the West Bank district of Bethlehem and is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. They began to plant olive trees as a sign of protest.
The fate of Jewish settlements is one of the issues at the core of the current impasse in Mideast peace efforts. The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967, and are willing to accept only minor land swaps in drawing the final border to accommodate some of the settlements Israel has built on war-won land. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is understood to be seeking a wider ongoing Israeli presence in the West Bank, although he has not specified his position.
The Housing and Construction Ministry announced last Friday that it had approved tenders for 1,400 new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The move drew condemnation from the Palestinian Authority, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Israeli left.