Approximately 250 Palestinians and 60 international and Israeli peace activists protested on Friday against Israel’s annexation Wall in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah in the West Bank. Several protesters, wearing flags of countries participating in the World Cup, carried a huge balloon representing a football, and a big wooden box symbolizing a coffin.
Several children were wearing shirts with red paint splashed on them resenting the blood of Palestinian children killed and injured by Israeli attacks and air strikes.
The move, says Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, comes to send the message to the world that while they are watching the World Cup, Palestinian children, men and women are being killed by the Israeli army.
“We are not against sports, we are not against football”, Abu Rahma stated, “But we call on the peoples of this world to help us to be able to live like them”.
The army was intensively present at the gate of the Annexation Wall and barred the protesters from crossing into the isolated orchards.
Soldiers violently responded to the peaceful protest, and fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs; one resident was injured and one was detained for several hours.
Later in the day, troops invaded the village, clashed with dozens of youths, and fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs at them. Several residents were hospitalized after inhaling gas fired by the army.
In response to Israel’s policy of keeping the international peace activists out of the country, Abu Rahma stated that the activists are considered as ambassadors for their own countries.
“They come here in solidarity with us, and they are the witnesses to the Israeli violations and abuse”, Abu Rahma said, “They are like ambassadors to their countries, and they have a very important role in aiding us and encouraging us to continue our peaceful; protests against the Wall”
The presence of Israeli and international peace activists has prevented the soldiers from using live rounds against the protesters, Abu Rahma added.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities at the Ben Gorion International Airport in Tel Aviv barred on Thursday international peace activists from entering the country for what the authorities described as “conducting activities against Israel”; the “illegal” activities are being in solidarity with the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
Commenting on the incident, Abu Rahma said that Israel aims to prevent the entry of international supporters to Palestine, Abu Rahma said that Israeli repeatedly deporting internationals in an attempt to bar them from acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people, adding that Israel does not welcome their presence because the witness and report the Israeli violations and illegal conducts.