Swedish filmmakers stranded in Palestinian territories

A group of six Swedes have been left stranded in a village in the West Bank. Israeli military road blocks will seal off the town for a further week, the UN reports.

The group of Swedes are from Umeå and are in the village of Nilin outside of Ramallah in the West Bank to film a documentary about the daily life of a Palestinian family.

The Israeli military imposed road blocks on routes out of the village on Saturday with the aim of stifling protests by the villagers against the wall being built in the West Bank. Current plans for the wall will mean that Nilin’s arable land will fall on the Israeli side of the barrier.

“The military has become increasingly violent. They are shooting plastic bullets, sound bombs and tear gas. They are even shooting at us,” said Niklas Berg, one of the documentary film-makers, to local Swedish newspaper Västerbottens-Kuriren.

The Israeli military has ordered a curfew in the village.

“The protests have become increasingly violent and must be ended,” said a spokesperson for the Israeli military to Reuters.

20 demonstrators were injured on Friday as the military open fire with rubber bullets at a crowd protesting the construction of the wall. A further seven demonstrators were injured in demonstrations on Saturday.

“There are horrible scenes occurring all the time,” said Niklas Berg.

The Swedish film team has not yet contacted the Swedish consulate-general in Jerusalem or the foreign ministry in Sweden for help.

“We are aware that there is a group of Swedes in the village. But the foreign ministry has issued a recommendation against travelling to the area due to the precarious security situation and prevailing transport difficulties. This is also an indication of the limited possibilities we face in trying to help out in these types of situations,” said foreign ministry spokesperson, Petra Hansson, to news agency TT.

The consulate-general has however been in contact the United Nations and has been told that the blockade will continue for a week.

The Israeli government began the construction of a barrier through the West Bank in 2002. The barrier is intended to seal off the Palestinian-controlled West Bank from Israeli territory and improve the security of the Israeli people.

A large portion of the wall passes through occupied territory with the result that a number of Palestinian settlements end up on the Israeli side.