Police detained 15 Palestinians and left-wing activists on Sunday for illegally passing through a checkpoint entering Israeli territory during a march that began in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
One protestor told Ynet that the march was aimed at "showing that in 2010 Israel is still banning people from entering the holy city (Jerusalem) due to the color of their identity cards."
The march began at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, after which some 150 protestors aboard two buses made their way to the Rachel Checkpoint, where they got off the buses and got through the checkpoint into Israeli territory.
Palestinian protestor arrested near Bethlehem (Photo: Reuters)
The activists claimed the arrests were unwarranted. "Children and some elderly people began to cry. We were merely practicing the Christian tradition of commemorating Jesus' walk to Jerusalem," Havida Araf, one of the activists, told Ynet.
Araf said the activists refused to stop at the checkpoint as an act of protest. "We did not present our identity cards because it is a discriminatory procedure," she said, "Then the police officers arrived and detained protestors who were trying to make their way back to Bethlehem. This incident is just another example of the forceful measures they (police) employ."
According to the activists, Palestinian Parliament member Abbas Zaki was among those detained.
"An event of peace and brotherhood among nations, with the participation rabbis and Palestinian priests, became a display of mass arrest," one protestor claimed.
The demonstrators stressed, however, that police did not use any violence against them.