This Friday too the Israeli army tried to disperse the afternoon demonstration with tear gas and shock grenades. In spite of it, the importance of nonviolent protest against the wall was proved once again. The companions of Bil'in have not disappointed us. This time again, following the tradition of the village comity creativity, we had an artful structure. When we arrived at noon for the joint Friday demonstration, we found ready for it a huge puppet snake symbolizing the fence and occupation - devouring a dove with the colors of the Palestinian flag (symbolizing peace, hope, and other nice ideas).
We started the demonstration as usual from the village center, with 10 of us in the front carrying the structure of the big snake. What a pity that this highly creative fruit of Muhamad of the village comity do not register with the army....
We were few hundreds of Palestinians, Internationals and about 60 Israelis (people from the main regions of Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv responding to the call of the Anarchists Against The Wall initiative.
Like the last few of the previous demonstrations, when we arrived at the fringe of the built area of the village we encountered the barbed wire structure blocking the road, the placard defining the area as closed military zone and an army platoon equipped for dispersing demonstration.
The army commander declared as usual that the area is closed military zone and the demonstration illegal... but said he granted us 15 minutes till dispersing - if we respect the non crossing red line marked by the barbed wire.
Few points worth mentioning. The army unit who replaced a week ago the border police company after it was exposed as a source of perjury and deployed to the disengagement of the Gaza strip, is a bit more cautious.
They needed an excuse for the action against us. When the allotted 15 minutes passed while we were chanting and dancing, they first sent small teams to the village fringes trying to provoke stone throwing. When this failed, and the periodic warning of us to disperse resulted in nothing, and the 15 initial period stretched for a whole hour, the army started to attack us. (All this, in spite of the fact that there is no work on the Bil'in fence on Fridays.)
First, they started to push our big comrade Leizer Palas. When it had no influence they started to throw tear gas and shock grenades on the last rows of the demonstrators and to capture people from the front lines. In parallel a score of them pushed forward towards the village trying to disperse us.
The people not arrested regrouped in a line in front of the soldiers line in another confrontation.
As the army hope for stone throwing still was not fulfilled, and as we refused to take seriously their threat and physical pushing, and another round of arrests, they had a second thought, and retreated behind the barbed wire "red demarcation line" where our snake was still waiting, and the non violent demonstration was victoriously resumed....
After a while, the snake was returned to the village, the demo was declared ended and the guest activists and village comity had a meeting to sum the action and to plan for the future Fridays.
At the village fringe, there was a short attrition war between soldiers intruders and the stone throwing youngsters but not in large scale like it happened when the demonstrations were viciously dispersed. When the soldiers retreated, things calmed.
Then, 15 of the 17 demonstrators detained during the intensive confrontation - 2 internationals and 13 Israelis were released (after taken initially to visit the route of the fence building....) The other two, were released few hours later, as usual, after being processed at the Givat Zeev police station.
Nir add: "from my point of view, to day demonstration prove again the huge power of nonviolent protest. The fact that the army do all that it can to provoke stone throwing, show how much it wish for it and how much the stone throwing serves the interest of the Israeli occupation authorities."