Saturday, May 21, 2005

Palestine-Israel, Bil'in struggle continues - another Friday demonstration 21 May

It started like many other actions before, by coordination between the village committee activists, and Anarchists Against The Wall (AATW). Then, among other efforts, an announcement was distributed to the wider activists scene some time called "the coalition against the wall/fence"... Just this Friday, like most others, they did not join us. So, like most other demonstrations in Bil'in, it was the Palestinian villagers, the AATW and the International ISM people. First the announcement: [againstwall] Bil'in demonstration this friday "Dear People, There will be a demonstration this friday in Bil'in against the wall which is being built on the village lands.

For background on the struggle in Bil'in see the coverage in the indymedia:

We have been pretty successful in bringing relatively large numbers of Israelis to Bil'in in the last few weeks and getting the struggle in Bil'in noticed. Lets keep it up !

We hope to be able to get a bus from tel aviv but for that we need people to commit to coming. if you can come please call yonatan or kobi (phone numbered snipped)"

Saturday morning, about 50 of us started the travel to Bil'in. Most of us by a buss, taking a risking/gamble we will have to face an Israeli army harassment on the way, which will need some sneaking. In order to arrive in time for the demo, we started 90 minutes before the demo - a ride of 30 minutes...

We did not even tried to arrive through the straight road to Bil'in... The first harassment occurred, when stopped at a point along the road, to cross some hill by foot to Nilin village - resume the travel from there by local cabs... The army patrol on the main road detected our tactic a bit too late. We were about hundred meters forward in the hill path before they tried to stop us.

After a short and fast crossing of the hill, few cabs came to take us to Bil'in - the first one with me in it succeeded to travel the road with no problem. Two other cabs were intercepted by the army patrol, who confiscated the keys of the cars....

As many of the comrades are well acquainted with the region after few months of cat-and-mouse encountered on the way to Bil'in, The comrades walked a bit by foot and then hitchhiked the few kilometers left to the village and arrived in time to take a rest before the demo - in the "guest house".

In the Guest hose, we prepared some placards and a few of us also a kind of "group theater", in which both Israelis and Palestinians put on our breasts small flags of the counties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We crossed with black adhesive type our mouths - symbolizing the minor care of these countries.

We started the march to the route of the site of fence-in-building in which the works have already stopped for the weekend not expecting serious clash this time. The theater group was advanced to the front and we did the kilometer march to the route with hands locked while the rest of the marchers behind us.

After about 15 minutes march, we reached a point 100 meters from the route in which a chain of military and police blocked our way physically. At first, they just ordered us not to advance. Next they brought a document declaring the whole region to be a closed military zone - forbidden to the Israelis, they say they gave us 10 minutes to contemplate before starting harsher measures.

When the 10 minutes ended, we just set down on the road road - Israelis and palestinians, locking our arms, in preparation for passive resistance to arrest. The police commander who needed consultation with higher ups said that though the time limit arrived, as we were sitting nicely on the ground, he will let us stay there....

After a while, they decided on their tactics, and they called us "last chance to disperse peacefully", and as we just jeered them, they announced that all of us are under arrest and started to pull by force people from our group theater chain. When they came for picking me up, partly because Palestinian comrades held me tight, part because the soldiers were shamed by them for harassing an old man with white hairs, they left me sitting on the road and went around me to arrest younger comrades.

Some of the people arrested were just carried by their hands and feet. Some were also hit by the carriers when there was not a camera too near to them. As it was really hot, and the carrying of the snatched people was rough and slow, we decided to change tactic, and instead of resisting or dispersing, most of the Israelis decided to do solidarity arrest and we said to the policemen: "OK, you declared we are under arrest, so we go with you peacefully.... And they accompanied us the 100 meters or so to the point on the route of the fence building the previously arrested were located.

There, we all seat together on the rocks. From there, we could see the rest of the demonstration continue further from the route... and were witnesses of the undeceive of the state forces about the treatment to give to 27 arrestees at the beginning of the week end.

With a lot of confusion, the police personnel started to process us at the rout, after a conflict between the army and police forced them to send us from the route to the shade of a near by olive trees orchard (confiscated from the palestinians on the other side of the fence for the enlargement of the near by settlement.)

After a long while they started to put us on police vehicles, releasing the majority of us far away on the road system of the settlers - to find public transportation home. 9 of us, with no obvious criteria, were taken to the police station at the Pisgat Zeev big urban settlement near Jerusalem.

As they failed to bring us before judge in time (which is about 4 hours only at Saturday afternoon), they just did a superficial investigation and the arresting formalities, and after a negotiating of a bargain, they let us all go after sighing each a bail equivalent to 900.- US dollars and agreeing not to approach the area of the route where we were arrested for the following 10 days.

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