Monday, March 6, 2006

Palestine-Israel: 3 demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall - Bil'in/Beit Sira, Abud, Tulkarem 06 Mar 2006

This Friday, 3 demos took place simultaneously against the apartheid wall. A direct action took place in Bil'in earlier in the morning where 10 activists (Palestinian/ Israeli and internationals) chained themselves to the fence until forcefully removed by the IDF.
The usual Friday protest then took place at 12 o'clock. Most of the Israeli activists were diverted from Bil'in to Beit Sira after the morning direct action with only a handful of Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW) members remaining in Bil'in for a smaller demonstration. Following the protest, as a response to the ritualistic stone-throwing of the shabab (youth), the army entered the village and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anybody who was outside, but also into houses.

Success at Abud, where protestors took copies of the newly-issued Supreme Court cease-work order issued for the next two weeks. The soldiers reacted with tear gas but as soon as the order was shown to them they relented and made sure the fence's construction was halted.

In Beit Sira a large number of Palestinian protestors showed up, as well as 15 Israelis and members of the Bil'in village committee to face off only 30 IDF border police. Last week, the IDF violently suppressed the Beit Sira protest, shooting rubber bullets at close range (as near as 10-15m), leading to the wounding of 14 protestors including a Palestinian whose kidney was penetrated by a rubber bullet, and an Israeli who was shot in the eye. This week the army kept its cool, even though more protesters showed up than were expected, and they had to call for reinforcements from the Bil'in units. No rubber bullets were fired, but tear gas and stun grenades were used to disperse the demo. One Israeli activist was hit by a stone thrown by the shabab and received stitches.

On Saturday 3rd March, a few representatives of the AATW joined a small demonstration in Tulkarem against the Jbara checkpoint. The checkpoint sits on the one road which still connects a small village called Hirbet Jbara to the outside world. For a few years, the village has been completely surrounded by the wall and its inhabitants live in a literal jail.

The handful of soldiers at the checkpoint were shocked and unprepared for the demonstration. Unable to control the crowed they panicked and shot live rounds into the air. The demonstrators held their ground and after making their point for about an hour decided to head back.

Although the demonstration was small, it was significant for a few reasons. It is the beginning of a new initiative for joint popular struggle in Tulkarem inspired by the efforts of the Bil'in committee. The organizers say that there are plans to repeat it every Saturday. Most of the demonstrators from Tulkarem were from the general women's union. Given how under-represented women are in many Palestinian demonstrations, this is an important sign. The Palestinian media at least seemed quite interested in the demonstration, the Tulkarem television station aired a report on the demonstration and the Al-Ayyam newspaper wrote a story.


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