Israeli soldiers told the leader of the ‘Popular Committee against the Wall’ to stop all the Anti-Wall protests in the village, the international Solidarity Movement (ISM) said on Monday.
In a press release ISM added that villagers were also told that international and Israeli activists should not be allowed in the area. There seems to be no legal standing behind the demand, which was issued amid a military invasion of the village last Friday aimed at stopping a peaceful demonstration before it began.
During the invasion, in which, according to the ISM statement, numerous witnesses reported seeing soldiers firing live ammunition in the direction of unarmed civilians, soldiers detained Mohammed Al Khateb, a local coordinator for anti-wall demonstrations in Bil’in.
‘The commander had come to me and said ‘I don’t want to see another protest in this village,’ Al Khateb said. ‘I told him, ‘you have the power of the occupation, but we’ll continue demonstrating even if we’re forced to do them in our own homes. We’ll keep going,’ ‘
Later, the same commander augmented his demand, Al Khateb said, telling him that he didn’t want to Israelis or international activists in Bil’in. ‘He said if we want to demonstrate, we must do it alone,’ Al Khateb said.
The military commander demanded the Israelis and foreign peace activists to refrain from reporting what they witness during the demonstrations, the ISM said.
‘We face them with backpacks, sandals and signs,’ ISM activist Greta Berlin was quoted as saying in the New York Times on Friday from Bil’in. ‘They face us in full riot gear,’ she added.
The village of Bili’n has been organizing nonviolent anti-wall protests every week in bid to prevent the Israeli army from building the wall on their village’s agricultural land which in most cases lead to cutting down their trees, in addition to confiscating the land for the construction of the wall.