On Friday, 16 civilians were injured and four abducted as Israeli troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protests in the villages of Bilāin, Nilāin and al-Nabi Saleh, in central West Bank as well as the village of al-Maāsara, in the south.In Bilāin, 15 protesters were injured when troops attacked the weekly march. This weekās protest in Bilāin ended a three day conference on nonviolent resistance in Palestine. The Conference began on Wednesday in Bil’in, and attracted hundreds of supporters from around the world, including Italian parliamentarian Luisa Morgantini and the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was killed by the Israeli military in 2003.
Dubbed the Sixth International Conference on the Palestinian Popular Struggle, the annual conference was dedicated this year to Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, who was killed last Friday allegedly by a Salafist (right-wing political Islamist) group in Gaza.
The conference was aimed at building and strengthening ties between Palestinian, Israeli and international activists working against the Israeli military occupation in Palestine. The conference was attended by a number of Palestinian officials in addition to members of the European Parliament, and hundreds of international and local peace and human rights activists.
On Friday midday, international and Israeli activists joined the villagers and marched toward the wall built on farmers’ lands by the Israeli army. Israeli soldiers stopped protesters before they reach the wall and fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at them to force them back. 15 civilians were injured including a journalist and three international supporters. The marchers continued forward and reached the gate of the wall, as they have done on every Friday since early 2005.
Soldiers then forced the non-violent demonstrators back into the village, then stormed the village, firing tear gas at houses. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.
In 2009 the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in favor of Bilāin residents and ordered the military to reroute the wall giving back the village half of the land originally expropriated to build the wall. The military has still not adhered to the court order.
In the nearby village of Nilāin, many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation also on Friday during the anti wall protest. Troops attack the villagers using tear gas as soon as they reached the gate of the wall which separates the farmers from their agricultural lands.
Also Friday, two locals and two internationals were abduced when troops attacked the weekly protest against the wall and settlements in the village of an-Nabi Saleh. Palestinians, together with international and Israeli supporters, marched to their lands, where Israel is presently trying to build a new settlement. Troops fired tear gas at them to force them back into the village.
In the southern West Bank, the villagers of al-Maāssara, along with their international and Israeli supporters, protested the Israeli wall being built on local farmers’ lands. Israeli soldiers attacked the protesters using tear gas, preventing the march from reaching the construction site of the Wall; many participants in the non-violent demonstration were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.