Palestinians breach separation fence for 2nd time in a week
Activists tether part of West Bank barrier to truck and pull it over, creating gap in fence.
Activists breached a hole in the West Bank wall for the second time in less than a week on Monday in a demonstration to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Their faces masked, the activists tethered a 2-meter wide section of the cement barrier to a truck which then pulled it over. The crowd of around 50, which had gathered at a section of the barrier near an Israeli checkpoint at Qalandiya, cheered as the 6-meter high section fell.
Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at the crowd, some of whom threw stones over the wall. Several demonstrators passed through the gap they had created, hoisting a Palestinian flag and setting ablaze tires on the other side.
On Friday, during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Na'alin, where activists and Palestinians gather every Friday to protest the route of the fence, masked Palestinian youths breached a section of the wall that runs through the village, while Israeli border guards fired tear gas and a foul-smelling spray from behind the high concrete barrier.
Protesters levered open a space under one the pre-cast panels and used a hydraulic car-jack to topple it out of position.
"No matter how tall, all walls fall," read one banner pasted onto the structure by Palestinian youths assisted by Israeli activists, who say the wall on Palestinian land and through Palestinian communities is simply a land grab by Israel.
The panels of the walls in Israel's separation barrier are cast in the same inverted T-shape as the wall constructed through Berlin by communist East Germany.
Israel began building its barrier of fences and walls at the height of the Palestinian uprising that began in 2000 and it now runs along most of the West Bank border, at many points encroaching into West Bank territory.
It says it was built to prevent suicide bombers entering Israel and has largely succeeded in doing so. Palestinians see it as an attempt to seize land on which they aim to establish an independent state.
"Today we commemorate 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall," said Abdullah Abu Rahma, leader of the People's Campaign to Fight the Wall. "This is the first step in a series of activities we will be holding in the coming days to express our firm attachment to our land and our rejection of this wall."
In a non-binding decision in 2004, the International Court of Justice said the barrier was illegal and should be taken own because it crossed occupied territory.
Israeli leaders have said the barrier is a temporary obstacle that could be removed once a peace agreement with the Palestinians is signed.