Saturday, February 3, 2007

Palestine-Israel, another joint Friday demonstration against the separation fence and occupation in Bilin, and Um Salamuna 03 Feb 2007

At noon we started as usual - Palestinians from Bil'in and the region, international activists, Israelis from the anarchists against the wall initiative, and media workers.... The theme of the creative structure was the call for the end of killing of Palestinians by Palestinians. We marched on the road to the route of the separation fence chanting and some time even dancing... At the head of the demo was a big sign reading "the internal killings" with mock nooses tied to it, and around the necks of a few Palestinian activists. As usual we seen at the fringe of the built area gendarmes of the border police waiting as provocateurs for the kids of the village to start throwing stones on them so they will be able to retaliate with grenades and rubber coated bullets and refute the claim that the struggle in Bil'in is nonviolent. Just as the last participants in the demo exited the village, we could already hear the beginning of the confrontation between the kids and the gendarmes.

When we arrived at the blocked gate to the route of the separation fence, began the low intensity confrontation. first verbal, later the soldiers used their batons to deter the ones trying to open the gate. Some of us started to pull the razor wire spools fortifying the gate, and later at a point 50 meter away they started to pull the spools of the razor wire fortifying the fence to the route the electronic fence pass in its middle. This was too much for the soldiers who started to throw shock grenades, which did not really deterred the activity.

However, the stone throwers who accompanied the demonstration could not refrain any more from stone throwing, and thus, the soldiers moved to the second mode - throwing both shock and tear gas grenades on both the stone throwers and the nonviolent demonstrators, shooting on the stone throwers, and violently try to drive the nonviolent demonstrators towards the village... with plenty of baton work.

Part of the demonstrators regrouped to area near the blocked gate where they confronted soldiers who were brutally beating a Palestinian demonstrator, and trying to arrest him. They eventually gave up on the arrest after demonstrators piled around him. As their pride hurt, the soldiers insisted on making another baseless arrest, and after a short scuffle with Israeli anarchists who tried to stop them, dragged Farhat Burnat, a 26 year old from the village, past the gate towards the army's staging area.

Farhat was later taken to a police station in a nearby settlement, and is falsely accused of assaulting a soldier. His arrest was extended by 96 hours and he was sent to a military detention camp. Under Israeli law, the police can only hold a person for 24 hours before being brought in front of a judge. Palestinians however live under military rule, and can be held for 96 hours before being brought in front of a judge

There and then, in a rare display of emotion, an Arabic speaking soldier, apparently of Druze origin (on which there is mandatory service in the army), started crying after villagers asked him how can he come and actively banish them from their lands, while even a group of Israelis stand by them. His commanders swiftly took him back to the army's staging area, shortening the enactment of one of Israel's "enlightened occupation" myths – shooting and crying.

This phase of the struggle continued more than an hour, till all the demonstrators returned to the village - leaving behind the battle zone between the kids and the gendarmes.

This Friday, "only" five people were injured this week. Three of them by rubber coated steel bullets, and two from beatings.

See another report and pictures at:

Um Salamuna
Israelis were invited to the third Friday activity in the struggle against the separation fence in the region south of Bethlehem on lands recently bulldozed for the wall.
This Friday noon there was a small demonstration. Less than a hundred people - including few international activists of the ISM and Israelis of the anarchists against the wall initiative. Contacts were established for further steps in the struggle in that region.

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