On this page you will find important things you need to know about the village of al-Ma’sara. Of course this is a work in progress; we ask for your patience.
The village Al-Ma’sara
Al-Ma’sara is a Palestinian village located 13 Km south of Bethlehem City and 22 km north of Hebron, with about 900 residents ( of which ±50% are youth aged between 6 and 18).
The name Al Ma’sara dates back to Roman times and means mill of the press, in reference to the natural rocks used to press grapes and olives. The majority of village income is sourced from agriculture, including sheep and goat farming, and in particular, harvests of grapes, olives, and seasonal vegetables.
Since October 2006, Al-Ma’sara Popular Committee has been organizing weekly demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall, the illegal settlements, and against the occupation as a whole, as a reaction to the soldiers’ destruction of the fields of grapes and olives.
While in the beginning, protesters were able to march straight to the construction site of the Wall and temporarily block bulldozers from their work, the protesters are now stopped on the main road of the neighboring village. The Israeli army has imposed a roll of barb wire and heavily armed soldiers, effectively closing off all traffic for at least two villages.
The popular committee believes in the power of creativity and organizes protests on special occasions such as:
- Independence Day of the Palestinian state on the 15th of November
- Bastille Day on the 14th of July
- Memorial of Nagasaki and Hiroshima on the 9th of August
- Labor Day
- Christmas Day
- Mother’s Day
Violent reactions of the Israeli army
Even though the protesters in the demonstrations are unarmed, soldiers are using violence against the participators such as physical violence, sound bombs and High Velocity Tear-Gas Projectiles.
Israel hopes to stifle the growth of popular resistance by preventing popular committee members from participating in demonstrations. In May 2009, three members of the Popular Committee were violently arrested during a peaceful Labor Day protest in Al-Ma’sara, together with other Palestinians, one international, and one Israeli. The members of the popular committee are not only harassed during demonstrations but are also under a constant threat of assaults from soldiers, due to their organization of popular resistance activities.