In spite the intense harassment against the arrival of Israeli Anarchists Against The Wall and the people of the coalition against the fence, about 50 of us succeeded to participate together with 15 international volunteers and hundred Palestinians - mostly inhabitants of Bil'in in the Friday demonstration. An eight months of Fridays demonstrations in Bil'in in additions to less frequent demonstrations and direct actions against the separation fence that robe more than half the lands of the village - annexing them to the Jewish orthodox city settlement. At noon, we started the usual Friday march towards the route of building of the separation fence. At the head was the creative art structure of the week. Along the road we marched and chanted slogans in both Arabic, English and Hebrew.
It took 7 months of persistent joint struggle to carry the nonviolent demonstrations again the separation fence in Bil'in, till we made the suppression so politically costly the state forces, so they decided to allow the nonviolent demonstrations in Bil'in. It took lot of physical confrontations, arrests, injuries, tear gas, non lethal bullets of various kinds. At the pick of the struggle the regional commander announced that no demonstration will be allowed in Bil'in.
At the last effort to suppress it the village was on curfew from early morning Friday. The lot of Israelis and Palestinians who did not yield and battled for long hours till we succeeded to lead a march to the route and the bad PR and media cover for the state force, forced them to change policy.
They replaced the commanders involved. The stated the change of policy. They agreed not to punish the participants of the nonviolent demonstration for the stone throwing youngsters who confront the soldiers in near by olive orchards...
And we arrived at about 100 meters of the route of the fence before they blocked our way to the fence route. After a while there people started to get down from the road to the orchard of olive trees in order to reach the route of the fence itself. True to the new policy the soldiers used only pushing force to prevent this acts and too violent soldiers were restrained by their commanders. After nearly an hour of failed efforts to do it on the south side of the road, and as the orchards there became a battle grounds of the stones of the stone thrower youth and the tear gas and non lethal bullets of the soldiers, we tried the northern side of the road.
Taken by surprise, the available soldiers and border police failed to block our way using bare hands only and we succeeded to get to the route of the building of the fence - a situation that could not happen till a month ago.
After celebrating for a while our small victory we returned to the village leaving the soldiers to continue their attrition war with the stone throwers.
It is hard to get used to it but non of the demonstrators was detained. Except excessive tear gas inhalation and one harmed by "non lethal" means the only unpleasant experiences were being pushed by the soldiers. ---------------------------
The media seems to regard the regular joint Friday demonstrations in Bil'in more seriously than some of the participants who lost the excitement derived from the Friday demonstrations. The following article of the Israeli daily haaretz is just one example of that.
soldiers scuffle with demonstrators during a joint protest by Israeli, Palestinian and international peace activists against the separation fence in the West Bank village of Bil'in,
October 21, 2005. REUTERS Last update - 17:13 21/10/2005
Bil'in protesters say bean bags are latest riot-control weapon
A previously unknown weapon is being used to combat protesters against the separation fence, according to a report last week by Palestinian, Israeli and foreign demonstrators at Bil'in, where demonstrations take place regularly.
According to the report, a protester, Haysam Hatib, was taken to the hospital in Ramallah last Friday with a large bruise on his leg. Activists from the human rights organization B'Tselem said they were unable to identify the weapon, but a Haaretz investigation revealed it to be a small bean bag that can be shot from a hunting rifle or from a rifle used to fire 37-milimeter shells or tear gas canisters.
The village of Bil'in, which has become the arena for ongoing protests against the separation fence in recent months, is said to be a site where new methods of crowd control are tested. In addition to the Israel Defense Forces, primarily responsible for dispersing the demonstrations, Border Police and Prisons Service personnel are also on the scene.
The elite Prisons Service unit known as Masada, consisting of veterans of special military and police forces, is deployed in emergencies such as prison riots. According to its commanders, the unit has become one of the world's leaders in riot control.
The IDF and the police have not been forthcoming on their relationship with the Prisons Service unit.
About two months ago a Haaretz investigative report revealed two new types of ammunition used for the first time at Bil'in: a pepper ball that splits into several smaller projectiles on contact and causes burning and dizziness, and blue sponges.
Bil'in protest leader Abdallah Abu Rahma said that after Haysam Hatib was shot, other demonstrators searching the area found a bullet that could be fired from a hunting rifle with the word "super sock" on it. According to the demonstrators, Hatib was hit by a small sack filled with tiny balls.
Combined Tactile Systems, an American company, confirmed to Haaretz on Thursday that they manufacture several types of bean-bag ammunition. A number of other companies also manufacture this type of ammunition. It is believed to be efficient in crowd dispersal because it delivers a blow without causing serious injury, since it does not penetrate. It can be fired from distances of one meter to 50 meters and is considered relatively accurate.
However, users are warned that the impact of the bean bag can be fatal if it hits a sensitive area of the body like the head or neck.
Research by the Canadian police in 1999 showed that if a person is hit by a bean bag, of the type used in Bil'in, fired from under three meters the blow can cause death.
After questioning the IDF, the police and the Prisons Service, Haaretz was unable to determine which of the bodies was responsible for firing the bean bag last Friday. The police responded that they were not familiar with the weapon and that the Border Police had not used it. The Prisons Service refused to comment on the types of weaponry used by its Masada unit, but said the weapons used at Bil'in are supplied by the army.
"I know the people who fired the bean bags were from the Masada unit," Hatib said. "I saw them shooting with a hunting rifle."