Protesters in Bil’in village continued dismantling a section of the Israeli Wall that the Israeli army began removing earlier this week, in accordance with an Israeli court ruling made four years ago to move the Wall in that area.During the Friday demonstration, seven people were injured as Bil’in villagers in central West Bank celebrated the removal of the old Israeli wall built on their lands. Six locals and one French activist sustained moderate wounds as they were hit in the arms and legs by gas bombs fired by Israeli soldiers.
Villages all over the West Bank also held their weekly protests on Friday against the Israeli built wall on their lands. Today protests were reported in Nil’in and Nabi Saleh in the central west Bank and al Ma’ssara village in the south. In Nabi Saleh troops injured a nine year old girl and arrested one international activist. In Nil’in many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation while in al Ma’ssara, soldiers did not allow people to reach the construction site of the wall.
Residents of Bil’in started to organize a weekly nonviolent protest against the Israeli wall six and a half years ago. In September 2007 the villagers continued protesting; and the legal proceedings managed to get to the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice, to order a halt to the wall construction. The court ruled for a re-routing of the section of wall built on Bil’in’s land. Due to the ruling, the villagers got back 275 of the 600 acres Israel took for the wall and the nearby settlement of Modi’in Illit.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled the Israeli wall illegal.
In February of last year and after two years of stalling the Israeli army began rerouting the wall by constructing a new one. This week the new wall was finished and army bulldozers started to remove the old one away; a scene that is unusual for Bil’in, where Wall construction is a daily occurrence.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters, “What the village of Bil’in has got back because of the changing of the course of the wall represents less than half of the lands that were confiscated.”
Today like every Friday, the protest started after the midday prayers, in addition to Israeli and international supporters who joined the struggle of Bil’in since it started; Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad and Arab Member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Mohamed Baraka joined today’s protest.
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 seven were injured as they were hit in the arms and legs by gas bombs fired by troops. The army used live rounds and chemical water known to local as “Skunk” for the bad smell it produces.
Even with the peaceful nature of the Bil’in protests the army has faced it with violence; leading to death. In January 2010 Jawaher Abu Rahmah was killed due to severe tear gas inhalation. Her brother Bassem was killed as well when an Israel soldier shot him in the chest with a tear gas bomb in April of 2009. Locals estimate that 1400 people have been injured by the army fire in Bil’in protests since they started and as many as 140 people have been arrested.