At the weekly protest in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah in the West Bank, Palestinians, internationals and Israelis challenged the recent Israeli decision to block certain holders of American passports from entering the country, by holding an engagement ceremony at the Wall’s construction site.
Mansour Mansour, a resident of Biddu village, near Ramallah, was engaged to a Palestinian born American woman, originally from Gaza, today, choosing, as an act of resistance to the Israeli policy, to have their engagement ceremony at the Wall itself.
Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, told the IMEMC in an interview that, "The couple had planned to have their engagement ceremony in the olive grove that is currently cut off from the village by the Israeli Wall. Everyone dressed in their finest, and headed down to the grove. The Israeli Army promptly declared the area a closed military zone, and stopped the family members and supporters from getting to the site." Abu Rahma added, "We are a nation that wants to live, to have weddings, to be happy like every other."
Several youth tried to enter the grove through the gate that has been installed there by the Israeli military. The Israeli soldiers fired concussion grenades at the crowd, and some of the youth responded by throwing stones. The Israeli soldiers violently attacked reporters, breaking the camera of a journalist with Ramattan News Agency and hitting them, as well as a number of other people in the crowd. Five Palestinian journalists, from both local and international news agencies, were injured. Twelve Israeli and international supporters, and nine residents, were also injured.
An officer from the Israeli Border Guard was also lightly injured.
Abdullah Abu Rahma stated, "The crowd consisted of many women and girls who were preparing to celebrate the engagement of the couple, but the Army was violent with everyone, pushing and hurting the celebrants."
As in the past, the Israeli Army invaded the village of Bil’in following the engagement party. Soldiers fired gas bombs and rubber bullets at residents, injuring several. The soldiers also opened fire at an ambulance from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
In a separate but related incident, ‘Maria’, an international activist from Greece was detained at Ben-Gurion airport when trying to enter the country. Israeli officials said that the woman, who was known to them as someone who had in the past made reports on the conditions of life for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, was considered ‘unwelcome’ in Israel and would be deported on Saturday morning.
Abu Rahma added that this would have been Maria’s third visit to the country, having previously visited in April and in December of 2005, at which time she had documented abuses by the Israeli military against Palestinian people, particularly those in Bil’in.
He stated, "We will remain steadfast on our land. We will defend our trees and our existence, no matter what Israel does to us."