At Bil’in and Nil’in villages central West Bank Israeli troops used tear gas and sound bombs to suppress anti-wall protests. Today, the people of Bil’in, a small Palestinian village in the central West Bank marked the 5th year anniversary of their weekly struggle against the Israeli-built wall on their lands.
villagers, along with international and Israeli supporters marched after the midday prayers at the local mosque towards the Israeli-built wall. In 2004 the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled the Israeli wall illegal. Among the people who came today to the village of Bil’in were Palestinian Prime Mister Salam Fayyad and MP Mustafa Al Barghouthi.
In September 2007 the villagers continued to protest; and through legal proceedings managed to get the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice to order a halt to the wall’s construction. The court ruled for a re-routing of the wall section built on Bil’in’s land. Due to the ruling, the villagers got back 275 acres of the 600 acres the Wall was planned to take over.
This week, after two years of stalling, the Israeli military started to re-route the wall as ordered by the court. Eyad Burnat, head of the Bil’in committee against the wall and settlements stated:
‘The creative ideas the local Popular Committee implemented along with Bil’in residents in resisting the Wall attracted a lot of international supporters and media which help spreading this experience’
Since the start of the protests five years ago at the Bil’in village Israeli and international supporters joined the villagers’ struggle. Chai Pollack, an Israeli activist who comes to Bil’in every week.
‘In the beginning the first role of Israelis was to lower the amount of violence used by the army, because the army follow different ‘open fire’ orders if it was only Palestinians – it’s very dangerous; and after many years of working together now we are building a movement: a joint struggle against the Occupation.’ Pollack Told IMEMC.
Villages all over the West Bank followed in Bil’in’s footsteps in conducting weekly protests against the Israeli built wall on their lands. Salah Al Khawaja from the nearby Nil’in village where anti-wall protests started three years ago:
There were three key elements that succeeded in Bil’in: continuity, diversity and self sufficiencyt, which Nil’in, Al Maassra and Soo-Sya had learned from. Al Khawaja told IMEMC
The Israeli military have arrested at least 128 villagers from all over the West Bank in the past six months in connection to the weekly anti-wall protests. Currently, Israel’s army is holding at least six members of the popular committee against the wall and settlements under charges of incitement against the military.
‘They try to stop us by force, by nightly invasions, and arrests. They even tried to kill people and they did: they killed our friend Bassem in April of last year, to try to stop this weekly activity. We say to them: our protest will continue and will not stop until the Wall is gone.’ Eyad Burnat, head of the Bil’in committee against the wall and settlements said.
Every week an Israeli army unit stops the villagers from going through the gate of the wall by firing tear gas canisters, causing dozens to suffer gas inhalation. Today at least 3 residents were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets. Dozens more were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation. The army also used liquid tear gas.
For this Friday the protest ended at the village of Bil’in, but before dispersing the villagers take a final look at the tombstone of Bassem Abu Rahma, a local popular resistance activist killed by the Israeli forces last year. In total the army injured 1200 people from the village during the weekly protests started five years ago.