Friday afternoon, residents of Bil’in along with dozens of Israeli and international peace activists held their weekly protest against the Separation Wall, and protested against the perceived insult to Islam after a Danish newspaper published cartoons deemed insulting to Islam’s prophet Mohammad.
The protestors marched towards the construction site of the Separation Wall while chanting slogans against the Wall, occupation and the recent publications of the cartoons.
The protestors were met by excessive military violence after the soldiers attempted to bar them from reaching the construction site. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs at the protesters.
When attacked by the soldiers, several of the unarmed protesters were injured — one resident, identified as Ashraf Al Ashqar, and one Israeli peace activist, identified as Karen.
Also, soldiers arrested ‘Jonathan’, one of the Israeli peace activists participating in the protest against the Wall.
Later on, the residents and peace activists, headed back to the village and met with the Palestinian Director Yahia Barakat, who screened a movie about Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was killed by the Israeli soldiers in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, in 2003.
The movie presented the life of Rachel Corrie, the activities of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the challenges and dangers ISM activists face while challenging the Israeli occupation and illegal practices in the occupied Palestinian territories.
At the age of 23, Rachel Corrie was full of life. She was a senior in college ignited by a passion for justice when she traveled to the Gaza strip as an activist for peace. And, it was at the age of 23 that Rachel Corrie knelt to the ground wearing an orange fluorescent jacket as a 9-ton Caterpillar bulldozer came toward her, knocked her over, crushed her with its blade, ran her over, backed up, and ran her over again.
Rachel was killed trying to prevent the demolition of a civilian home by the Israeli army. Thousands of homes had been demolished; she along with her companions from the International Solidarity Movement were seeking to prevent further destruction. Through non-violence, this group of international activists was following the lead of Palestinians struggling, in a massive non-violent movement, to end the occupation of their lands.
Activists such as Rachel lived in Palestinian homes with Palestinian families hoping to help fend off attacks and destruction. They used their bodies to send a clear message of solidarity and resistance spelled in the alphabet of arms and legs, torsos and necks, hands and feet. It is this unmistakably human language that Rachel chose to speak in the face of machines programmed for death and devastation.