Approximately 100 Bethlehem University students demonstrated against the new Erez Checkpoint today in Bethlehem. Carrying slogans denouncing the new checkpoint and Israeli policies of apartheid, students began marching from the Bethlehem University campus to the Israeli military checkpoint in an attempt to temporarily block tourist buses from entering Bethlehem.
However, the students were stopped at the IDF controlled Rachel's Tomb, halfway to the new checkpoint, by a volley of tear gas and rubber bullets from Israeli soldiers. This was the first demonstration of its kind against the new checkpoint.
The following is a statement issued by the Bethlehem University Student Senate. Down with the Occupation, Down with "Erez 2 Checkpoint"
We stand here, Palestinian students, workers, farmers and civilians of Bethlehem residence, in order to inform all the tourists that come to this land to celebrate the messenger of peace and love, that the Israeli occupation cause the people of this land great humiliation and suffering. Throughout the years of the Israeli occupation we have suffered too much from Israeli racist actions.
With the coing of joy and the preparations for the 2000th memory of the birth of Jesus Christ, we face another plan to make the Zionist apartheid a fact on our land, negating the legitimate right of the Palestinians to establish an independent state.
The "Erez 2 Checkpoint" aims to separate the holy city of Jerusalem from other Palestinian cities and villages in the sourther areas of the West Bank. Also, it is a blow to the economy of the holy city of Bethlehem and an attempt to make a separate entrance for Christian pilgrims that come to Palestine to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
We are not doing this action against tourism, but against the occupation and its plans to put Bethlehem under solitude.
Students of Bethlehem University