On Friday, February 19th, residents of the village of Bilâin will march to celebrate the 11th anniversary of the beginning of the weekly protest against occupation.
The small village of inhabitants has for over a decade united Palestinians and internationals to support their cause, following a non-violent, peaceful way of resisting against the illegal stealing and the occupation of their land.
The protests were initiated in 2005, when Israeli forces started uprooting trees on land belonging to Palestinians, on the outskirts of the village, claiming they needed to free the route for the future wall that would be built for âsecurity reasonsâ. Residents of the village first tried stopping bulldozers, calling for international and Israeli activists to join and support them. But, the land was seized, and the wall was built.
The protests still continued, and, every Friday, villagers march to the wall to protest its illegal route and the expansion of the illegal settlement of Modin Ilit that is located right behind the wall, and on village land. The popular resistance committee also engaged in a legal battle against the presence of the wall on their farmland. Organisations in Israel and around the world supported their cause, and soon, the weekly protest became a famous example of civil disobedience and peaceful resistance in Palestine. In 2007, the Israeli courts ruled that the wall had to be re-routed. After major delays, a part of the wall was in fact re-routed, marking a small victory for the village which, thus, regained at least part of their land.
Residents of Bilâin never stopped protesting against the occupation since then. During the demonstration, many were injured, and two of the villagers were killed by Israeli forces, Bassem Abu Rahmah, 29, and Jawaher Abu Rahmah, 36, were killed in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Bassem Abu Rahmah, 29, died after being hit by a high-velocity tear-gas canister in the stomach.
Despite the violent opposition of the army during the weekly protests, the villagers are determined to never give up their struggle for their land, justice, dignity and against the illegal Israeli occupation.
Also of interest: ISM Calls for Internationals to Volunteer in Palestine