one of six who boarded a bus belonging to the Israeli bus company
Egged, after it reached the Hizma checkpoint before entering
Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. Six Palestinian activists,
defiantly clutching national flags and surrounded by dozens of
reporters, were dragged off an Israeli bus that they were hoping would
lead them to Jerusalem, after an hours-long stand off with police on
Tuesday. The Palestinians said they boarded the Israeli bus in a
widely advertised action, hoping to draw attention what they say are
discriminatory measures in the West Bank, particularly travel
restrictions.(AP Photo/Diaa Hadid)
HIZMA CHECKPOINT, West Bank (AP) — Six Palestinian activists,
clutching national flags and surrounded by dozens of reporters, were
dragged off an Israeli bus they planned to ride into Jerusalem after a
standoff with police Tuesday.
The Palestinians boarded the Israeli bus in a widely advertised action
hoping to draw attention to what they call discriminatory measures in
the West Bank, particularly travel restrictions.
Tuesday's action highlighted how some Palestinians are adopting
peaceful actions in their struggle for statehood in the West Bank,
where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority has a measure of
self-rule. Even as the bus protest unfolded in the West Bank,
Palestinian militants in Gaza to the south fired rockets at nearby
"We want to show the system of discrimination that we live in here. My
point isn't go to jail — my point is to have the freedom to get on a
bus," said Badia Dwaik, a 38-year-old civil servant, shortly before he
was dragged off the Israeli number 148 Egged bus, which serves Israeli
Israeli officials say the travel restrictions on Palestinians are
needed to prevent militants from entering Israel or West Bank
settlements to stage attacks. The restrictions increased during the
violent Palestinian uprising of 2000-2005, when buses were frequently
blown up by suicide bombers.
The Palestinian activists dubbed themselves "Freedom Riders" after
1960s American civil rights activists who worked in the U.S. South to
counter racial discrimination and segregation there, though there were
no security elements in the American rights struggle.
Dozens of reporters clustered around the six activists, who wore
T-shirts emblazoned with "justice" and "freedom." Several wore
black-and-white checkered headscarves.
After an uneventful 20-minute ride, the bus stopped at the Hizme
checkpoint on Jerusalem's outskirts. Israeli police boarded, demanding
to see their Jerusalem entry permits. Lacking the permits, the
Palestinians refused to get off.
"I am not going to obey your discriminatory law," Dwaik told the
policeman, speaking Arabic.
"So you are detained," the policeman said, also in Arabic.
"Fine. I am not moving."
About an hour later the six Palestinians were detained, dragged off
the bus and taken away in a police car to a nearby station — in
Jerusalem, having somewhat reached their destination.
Maggie Amir, 48, from the nearby Jewish settlement of Rimonim, who was
waiting to board, said Palestinians shouldn't be allowed on.
"This is our bus," she said, adding: "Quite simply, we are afraid of them."
In the West Bank — home to 2.5 million Palestinians and some 300,000
Jewish settlers — the two sides usually use different bus systems.
Although no specific rule prevents Palestinians from riding the
"Israeli" buses — they are generally not allowed into the Jewish
settlements these buses serve. The Palestinians also need permits to
enter Jerusalem, the terminal station for most buses.
Tuesday's protest began at a stop near the Jewish settlement of
Migron. Posted on the bus stop were posters praising the late Rabbi
Meir Kahane, an extremist who argued that Palestinians should be
expelled from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. The first three "number
148" buses — apparently aware of the planned provocation — sped by.
But the fourth pulled up.
The Palestinians paid their fares and boarded, as reporters jostled to
board. Dwaik sat a row away from Haggai Segal, a 54-year-old Israeli
from the settlement of Ofra, once jailed for planting a car bomb that
badly wounded a Palestinian mayor. The two did not interact.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the detained Palestinians would
"likely" be released soon — back to the West Bank.