Dozens of Arabs and foreign anarchists rioted at the Beit Jala checkpoint near the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo on Sunday afternoon, with IDF soldiers using riot control methods to quell the disturbances.
No injuries were reported.
The unrest was sparked over the issue of the completion of the separation barrier, according to the Palestinian Authority-linked Ma'an news agency, which said Israel had “confiscated” 300 dunams of land in Beit Jala for construction of the barrier.
Local sources claimed IDF bulldozers were uprooting olive trees in Beit Jala near an existing section of the wall. According to the Bethlehem Anti-Wall Committee, there are some 2,000 olive trees on the land, which is allegedly owned by residents of Beit Jala, a predominantly Christian city.
An IDF source said the PA forces did not have jurisdiction in the area, which was declared a closed military zone for the duration of the operation. The Civil Administration told Ma'an that in general, security cooperation between the PA and Israel has remained strong in other areas.
The barrier is being built to prevent terrorists from entering pre-1967 Israeli cities from Palestinian Authority areas to carry out suicide bombings and other murderous attacks. The wall has been credited by some with reducing such attacks to nearly zero.
The Bethlehem Anti-Wall Committee, headed by Khalid Azza, complained bitterly to the news agency that Beit Jala would be isolated from the nearby village of Al-Walaja, claiming the construction of the wall was “terrorism and piracy against Palestinian land.”