The main road to the village of Beit Dajan, south-east of Nablus, has been blocked for the past ten years. At its edge stands a metal gate, bound by a heavy chain that keeps it locked and immoveable. As if to emphasize the fate of this road, a large razor wire barricade stands halfway between the gate and the village. Beyond the shut gate stretches a well-kept road – Route 557 – that begins at the notorious Huwarrah checkpoint at the entrance to Nablus, and ends at entrance gate to the Jewish-only settlement of Elon Moreh. Route 557 is what in Israeli army-speak is called a “sterile road”, meaning Palestinians are not allowed on it.
Marking the beginning of a campaign to open the village’s main artery to Nablus, hundreds gathered outside the mosque following the Friday midday prayer. The protesters, about three hundred in number, made their way to the razor wire barricade laid halfway through the road, and removed it. From there they marched towards the metal gate waving flags, carrying banners and chanting slogans against the settlements, the theft of their land and water, and demanding the opening of the road.
As the protesters neared the gate, soldier immediately came out of the one military jeep that was waiting there, and began immediately throwing tears-gas grenades, demanding that the protesters retreat 200 meters away from the road. One soldier fired several tear-gas projectiles on the ground, dangerously close to protesters who were posing no risk to him. Showers of tear-gas continued for approximately 40 minutes, but due to favorable winds, were not able to break the demonstration. Protesters continued to chant slogans, and occasionally return a smoking tear-gas grenade to its rightful owners.