For over six months, since the start of the construction of the separation wall near the village of Bil’in west of Ramallah, residents of the village joined by scores of Israeli and International peace activists have been demonstrating every weekend against the wall.
The demonstrations are peaceful and the organizers are investing an unusual effort to sustain a non-violent nature of the protests.Ã‚Â The protests are regularly met with violence by the Israeli border police and army, which makes some of the younger demonstrators to start throwing rocks at the troops, said one of the organizers.
According to an investigation by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the Border Police company 22 is assigned the task to disperse the demonstrations, which do not spare any chance to arrest, assault the demonstrators.
The investigation showed that the policemen made false accusations against demonstrators and in many cases made arrests based on these false accusations.Ã‚Â When Palestinians are arrested, they can be held for eight days before being brought in before a judge.Ã‚Â However, Israelis and Internationals must be brought before a judge within 24 hours.
‘In recent weeks’, says Haaretz, ‘three judges harshly criticized troops after watching videotapes that nullified their allegations.’
Judges questioned, in the last two cases, the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors.Ã‚Â Footage taken by Shai Caremeli-Polack, of the organization ‘Anarchists Against the Wall’, was presented in court hearings and contradicted the allegations of policemen.Ã‚Â The policemen claimed that the behavior of demonstrators had forced them to use batons, kick and fire tear gas directly at the protestors.
Footage of the border police kicking a beating one of the detainees in a Bil’in protest, few weeks ago, after being subdued were presented to the investigators led to his release.Ã‚Â He was detained
‘After the investigator saw the film, he immediately decided to release the detainee and transfered the case file to police Internal Affairs Department, (IAD) to review the Border Policemen’s conduct,’ a police officer said.
Border police arrested two Israelis on July 20 in Bil’in claiming they took part in an illegal assembly.Ã‚Â Shaul Berger Mugrabi and Moshe Robas, were accused of assaulting a policeman and interfered with police work.
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Yoel Tzur, however, watched the footage of the incident, taken by other activists, and thrashed the police saying: ‘The Border policemen who were involved in the incident are indeed framing the two respondents, yet I cannot shake off the impression created by the tape that shows distinctly that it was Border Policemen who used force against the respondents.’
The International Solidarity Movement, (ISM) is one of these groups which recruits International peace activists and join Palestinians in their resistance against the wall and other forms of police and army activities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for the past five years.
Two ISM activists have been killed by the Israeli army during nonviolent activities in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.Ã‚Â Rachel Corrie, 23-year-old American of Olympia Washington was crushed by an Army bulldozer in March 2003, and Tom Hurndall 22-year-old British of London was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper in April 2003.