Officials and supporters of the Palestinian Fateh Party joined together
with residents of Bil’in village near the northern West Bank city of
Ramallah, as well as international and Israeli activists for the
commemoration of the forty-second anniversary of the founding of the
Fateh movement and a demonstration against Israel’s Annexation Wall on
Jabril al Joub, of Fateh, commended the unanimity amongst Palestinians fostered within Bil’in, and cited the death of Yasser Arafat as significant catalyst toward the current political crisis. The void left by Arafat, he said, combined with an absence of unified leadership, has led to endemic problems such as a lack of security, employment and such basic necessities as food and education. Kais Abu Leyla, also of Fateh, echoed the call for unity between Islamic and nationalist parties, to put an end to factionalism and restore a cohesive Palestinian resistance to the Occupation.
Muhammad Baraka, member of Knesset, condemned ongoing Palestinian infighting and called for an immediate cessation of factional violence, commending the village of Bil’in for the example it has shown.
Before commencing the march toward the barrier, featured speakers extended their thanks to international and Israeli activists who have worked alongside the residents of Bil’in in their efforts against the Annexation Wall. The village has lost approximately 60% of its land, primarily agricultural, to the construction of the barrier and the illegal expansion of the Modin Illit settlement directly adjacent. Residents of Bil’in and their supporters have demonstrated and conducted non-violent direct action against the Wall every Friday for nearly two years.
Following the rally in the village center, approximately four hundred demonstrators marched toward an access gate to the barrier where Israeli soldiers awaited them. A much bolstered force accompanied the soldiers typically stationed in the area, possibly in advanced preparation of the well-publicized march and in the aftermath of Thursday’s Israeli invasion into Ramallah that claimed four Palestinian lives and left twenty wounded, several critically. A large contingent of Israeli Border Police indicated a preparedness to conduct mass arrests.
Israeli soldiers took positions at several locations along the expanse of the primary fence and immediately opened fire on the peaceful demonstration, though the majority of marches had not yet arrived to the barrier. Soldiers fired vehicle-mounted water and tear gas cannon and began firing tear gas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets and percussion grenades into the crowd, which dispersed in several directions. The army pursued villagers well into a residential area of the village, firing continuously at youth who attempted to take refuge in the surrounding olive groves.
Several Bil’in residents were injured, including at least one who was taken to the hospital for treatment. An Israeli activist also received first aid after suffering burns from a tear gas canister.
Among those injured were; Suleilman KHALEB Khatub (17) shot with rubber-coated bullet in back, Wael Fahmi Nasser (29) shot with rubber-coated bullet in leg, Farahat Ibrahim Hashem (26) shot with rubber-coated bullet in leg, Hiyam Abed al Al (15) tear gas inhalation, Khaled Showkat al Khatib (20) shot with rubber-coated bullet in hand, Ashraf Muhammad Jamal al Khatib (26) shot with rubber-coated bullet leg, Jonathan Pollak, Israel (25) tear gas canister burns to hand, Ahmad Issa Yasin (50) tear gas inhalation