Saturday, April 16, 2005

Palestine-Israel, AATW in Bil'in 15-4-05 - a very violent Friday demonstration - by Shaul Rosi and Yael from 16 Apr

Shaul: "It was a real scaring. We arrived to Bil'in in two groups. The first group of 9 at noon (1:00 pm) The demo start at 1:30PM. Another group of three (including me) about 15 minutes later, directly to the mess. All the Israelis were dispersed. Part of them fledging from the soldiers, others hiding in a house, it was really distressing. The first thing we have seen was a jeep in the middle of the village, and near it border policemen shooting teargas and rubber coated bullets. Bad beginning, even for Bil'in. The jeep have gone. the following thing we seen was 6 or 7 border policemen standing in the middle of the village. 'what are you doing here?' No response. they have gone. Later, a jeep approach a house, soldier get out of it, intending to enter. 3 Israelis running towards the house.

The soldiers abandoned the idea. Later, the same soldiers blocked the way of 10 internationals. I retreated. Near the Mosque, stones, rubber, gas, stones..... people say there was shooting with live ammunition.

The demonstration reorganize a new and marching towards the the route of the fence. relatively many people for Bil'in. We arrived to the end of the village, where the border police were waiting. Stones, and rubber, lot of rubber coated bullets. The border police shooting without limit. I have ever been so afraid. We shouted and screamed... but it is not the kind of things that convince persons with rifles. The border police retreated a bit towards the fence route, and we followed them. Few stones more were thrown, and they returned in a big way. Though it is not exceptional, it is still hard to see a soldier sitting on the ground, aiming a rifle, and shoot people. And there is nothing you can do. You can not prevent this. Three soldier take the initiative. Entering a house, climbing on the roof, and shooting from there. Reasonable according to their mode of action. They can see very clear from the roof. Any other way they are distracted. Our shouts did not help and they sniped from the roof for about 10 minutes. In 10 minutes they could shoot lot of rubber bullets and even some teargas. They got down, joined the others, and continuing shooting.

Around 3:00pm - about two hours after the demonstration started, the border police arrived to the obvious conclusion, and accepted what we suggested from the beginning: they left the village and returned to the fence route. Though they now took positions where the stones do not reach them, they still continued shooting tear-gas canisters for another half an hour. Then it finished.

The damages: One with rubber bullet in the leg, one was injured his hand when he tried to return the soldiers a shock grenade. Two internationals arrested.
And a problem: how 12 people can return home at 17:00 Friday after noon from the the future orthodox city*? With God help..."

Rosi Abrahamov: "I must say me too was afraid today...
It was hard and I felt that the machoist game between the the village youngsters and the soldiers were overdone up to absurd. I felt a bit redundant, and at one stage I felt that the demo was redundant too. 'i guess it comes with the territory'.
From a person who was in the demonstration from the beginning, I want to point that the soldiers came prepared for us with a closed military region decree for the whole of the village straight at the beginning. All the village was a forbidden zone. The demonstrators retreated to the village, but it did not stop the jeeps from advancing into the village alleys, to through tear gas canisters into houses, and to shoot to all directions.

As for the question about the way home - you can easily catch a cab for free (:"

Yael: in response to Rosi.
"Rosi, I can understand how in the mess and the clouds of tear gas the interaction between the village youngsters and the army could have seemed to you as a kind of a machoist game. However, this definition of machoist game is based on the assumption that the powers are balanced, which is not the case. The stone throwing is better perceived as it is: a protest cry, a despair cry which do not really endanger the armed soldier, protected by helmet and armor... the high price gadgets the village youngster who is shoot at with shock grenades, rubber coated bullets, and some time by live ammunition, do not have.

And no, you were not redundant at that demonstration. We know what happened in in the demonstrations in the beginning of the present Intifada without a declared Israeli presence - people lost their life (recall the Bidu demos against the fence). Our presence in the demonstrations is not only materialistic = to try to prevent the escalation of the [Israeli] violence. It is also significant in the partnership and solidarity level. At long last there is a really joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle that is not only consisted/summed in a sticker of Peace Now movement, in which the word 'peace' is written in both Hebrew and Arabic.

Even this demonstration was not redundant. This, in spite the desperation and the sizifian helplessness we feel and show, and the fence that get built, and the world that keep silent. The resistance to the building of the fence have great importance. First, in the level of public opinion - in the international media you can see it even clearer. And more important - this struggle influenced the judicial aspect in the petitions of last year [to the supreme court of 'justice']

The change in the route in Budrus, in spite of being 'the exception of the rule that testify for it', is a victory derived from the combining of the wide scale nonviolent popular struggle that was in the village together with decision of the international court of Hague.

And may be the most important of all: a person who would arrive from no where to the [occupied] regions will not understand why the Israeli army have an interest in suppressing a nonviolent struggle? Is it possible the army prefer confrontation with explosives and rifles?! And the reply amazing each time a new is YES. The army, or more accurate the state that mobilize it cannot deal with such kind of resistance. Resistance that just by its existence and nature prove who is the occupier and who is the occupied, who is the all mighty powerful and who is the weak. The violent Israeli response to the non-violent Palestinian resistance prove/show to what extent Israel afraid from it and its implications. It tries again and again to define the non-violent struggle as violent. So, the enemy stay enemy, the fear stay fear, just by the book. The insistence on the nonviolent struggle undermine the efforts to depict the Palestinians as those who understand only force, and expose the real power balance as it really is.

And with a more personal take: I am sure that like me, you understand most of what I wrote. You were there too. This text was written mainly for those who look from the side on this struggle, often only through the mainstream media, and get a twisted impression on it.
* [Ed note: The new city of Upper Modi'in is a settler project on the West side of the fence route at Bil'in region. Being built on part of the Bil'in lands, and more so with the latest robbery enabled with the protection of the fence.]

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