The continuos and persistent joint struggle of Israelis and Palestinians, its persistence, and wide Israeli and international exposure brought fruits - at least in the behavior of the Israeli state forces. "Rumors" say that the replacement of the battalion and regiment commanders contributed to that change. (Reminder, about a month ago the chief Israeli commander of the region declared that there will not be any more joint Israeli and Palestinians demonstrations in Bil'in. For two weeks the confrontation was intense - including one Friday of curfew and one of "only" lot of suppression efforts - meaning tear gas, shock grenades and arrests.. But instead of preventing the demos it drew lot of Israelis to Bil'in and lot of media cover not friendly to the state forces. Then the demonstrations resumed with much less repression than before.)
Though the intensive efforts to prevent Israelis from arriving to Bil'in Friday demos continue, the behavior of the state forces seems to be milder.
Some of the "outsiders" - Israelis and spanish guests, came already Thursday night to be sure that at least few of us will be in the joint demo and to not need to march through rough terrain around state forces road blocks.
At Friday, most of the Israelis were blocked on entering to the region but long marches enabled most of us to arrive at Bil'in in time before the demo started. Even the less lucky rest arrived in time to participate in the prolonged demonstration.
The demonstration started as usual from the center of the village just after the noon prayer at the mosque - a march through the village main road towards the route of the fence building.
As usual, in the front lead the creative design structure of the week - to make the week after week demos more lively and catch the interest of the media. After it - about 200 people, the usual people - Palestinians from the Bil'in village (more than 10% of the adult males of the 1700 inhabitants), few people from neighboring villages, internationals of the ISM, Israelis of the Anarchists Against The Wall initiative together with others of the broader coalition against the fence - from both the Jerusalem and the greater Tel Aviv regions.
When we arrived to the fringes of the village built are, we had a big surprise. The road block and the Israeli state forces that used to block us there every Friday for many weeks, was not there. So we continued our march along the road leading to the fence building site - where the state forces were waiting for us.... but half way there we gave them a big surprise - we spread widely and continue to march through the olive orchards towards the building fence rout, but a bit to the North.
The half hearted efforts to block the demonstration failed, and many of us continued with the momentum to a hill on the other side of the route. After a long stand still, the demonstrators regrouped on their own initiative to the shade of the olive trees adjacent to the fence route on the Bil'in side.
And thus, the demonstration continued for long with light hearts so even the late comers could participate in it.
As the demonstration was not blocked at the margin of the village built area, and as there was not any act of state forces to suppress the demonstration, the attrition fight between the village youth (stones) and the state forces (tear gas and shock grenades, and rubber bullets) did not happened.
It was a bit strange to the persistent participants of the Friday demos in Bil'in to have a demo that got nearly free access to the route of the fence in building, with the whole of it without any grenade or a shot... and without any one arrested or even detained.
The anxious few new comers Israelis experienced the lack of tear gas and shock grenades as bordering on disappointment ('=)
In the early Friday evening radio news they reported - probably from the "proud" army spoke person, that the demonstration in Bil'in passed peacefully as the "demonstrators behaved peacefully".
(Of course a big lie as all the 70 or so Israelis were trespassing on a declared military zone forbidden for us - mostly out foxing heavy patrols preventing our access, and the demonstration participants disregard the state force protests and pushing and "tramped" on the forbidden building route of the fence... But it was a way to satisfy the broad media and people who object to the previous high handed suppression of demonstrations.)
As no one was detained or arrested, we even got home an hour earlier.