Customers pushing carts at Rami Levy supermarket in the Sha’ar Binyamin
industrial zone of the West Bank were startled Wednesday morning when
Palestinian activists marched through the door waving flags and shouting,
“Occupation no more.”
Surprised security guards did not move fast enough
to shut the doors as the activists marched single file into the store.
the glass door shut in his face, one customer said, “But I’m in the middle of
Palestinians crowded between the checkout counters and aisles,
next to which hung packages of balloons and red licorice.
settlers,” they chanted. “Five, six, seven, eight, Israel is a fascist state,”
They also held signs that said, “Boycott the occupation
and its products.”
Palestinian NGO, the Popular Struggle Coordination
Committee, which last week briefly blocked the West Bank Road 443, planned the
Road 443 is mostly used by Israeli vehicles and is a main artery
On Wednesday morning, they targeted a well-trafficked
supermarket in the Binyamin region, just outside of Jerusalem. They marched
through the store and back out into the parking lot, down the road toward Route
60. Some 20 foreigners were with them.
Border Police and soldiers quickly
assembled at the market and closed its gates behind the activists. They then
blocked all avenues before the activists – which at this point numbered close to
100 – could actually exit the area.
The only path possible required them
to hike down through the valley by the side of the road.
Still, a police
commander warned the demonstrators his officers would use force if they did not
leave within five minutes.
Minor skirmishes and shouting matches broke
out between police and the demonstrators for half-an-hour, until the area was
Some demonstrators hiked down the valley.
others out of the area. At certain points, security forces used stun grenades to
control the situation. At other times they chased activists they identified as
In one scuffle with an activist, border policemen and
soldiers pulled a man’s cane away from his hand and pushed him to the ground. A
number of activists were able to pull him away. But in another such scuffle, an
activist passed out and was taken away in a Red Crescent ambulance.
one woman refused to move, a border policeman and a soldier attempted to pull
her up by her arms.
The protest attracted a few settlers, including
Binyamin Regional Council deputy head Motti Yogev and members of the nonprofit
group Regavim, which promotes a Zionist agenda for the State of Israel. Its
office is located on top of the supermarket, and it had been in the middle of a
staff meeting when the protest broke out.
Ari Briggs and Meir Deutsch
walked out to the parking lot and argued with the protesters.
particularly incensed when some of the foreign activists yelled out at him,
“You are calling me a Nazi?” he asked, startled. “You are from
Europe. My grandfather was killed by Nazis, my father was saved from Nazis by a
Christian and I am a Jew standing in our homeland. Don’t call me a Nazi, how can
you call anyone a Nazi?” he said.
“You are acting like Nazis,” responded
The short protest was part of a civil disobedience
initiative by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee. Its aim is to promote
the point that Israel must leave the West Bank.
Abir Kopty, the group’s
spokeswoman, said the organization had targeted the popular supermarket chain
because it has four branches in the West Bank and its owner has many ties to the
For Israelis in the West Bank, the Rami Levy chain is an
oasis of coexistence. On any day, Palestinians and Israelis can be seen shopping
or working together there.
“This was a demonstration against
coexistence,” said Deutsch. “Rami Levy is a unique place where Jews and Arabs
work together and buy together in peace and quiet.
“The fact that this is
possible is very concerning to the extreme leftists that claim to want peace,
when in fact they are anti- Israel demonstrators,” Deutsch said.
Kopty told The Jerusalem Post
, “You cannot have coexistence while there is
occupation.” The Rami Levy chain benefits from settlements and the occupation,
and Palestinians should boycott them, she said.
“They are one of the
symbols of the injustice and colonization on our land,” she said.
said that they arrested two Palestinians and two foreigners who had taken part
in the demonstration.
Kopty said that one of those arrested was Basim
Tamimi, head of the Popular Committee of Nabi Saleh. She added that police broke
some of his ribs.