Today about one hundred Palestinian, Israeli and international women demonstrated in Nilin against the apartheid wall being constructed by Israel cutting deep into the West Bank effectively appropriating village lands to nearby settlement Hashmonaim. Soldiers welcomed the group with sound bombs and gas, they kept the women from reaching the work site using violence, but demonstrators repeatedly forced the soldiers to retreat quite a bit over the hour long protest. There were two arrests, two injuries, and lots of gas; this is the first of a series of women's actions in the village. Pictures at:
Nilin's women were supported in large numbers by activist from Ramallah, Tulkarem, Tel-Aviv*, Jerusalem, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and the USA among other places. The group, that also included a number of children, marched from the village's center toward the work site when soldiers stopped them about 100 meters from the machinery using sound bombs and tear gas. The group dispersed a bit on the hill, but the wind followed them, so that about half of the women were able to stick by the soldiers while others retreated to safety and treatment. One elderly Palestinian woman was taken to hospital due to heart problems.
Nilin children had made many posters that were carried by the women, expressing themselves about the fence and Palestine's freedom, because most could not attend themselves. There were not many chants on the way, but when the soldiers were reached, heated discussions were exchanged, with most women arguing why they should be allowed to the work site. There were many spurts of gas and sound bombs over the hour long demonstration, but, each time the group managed to move ahead closer to the working tractors. During all of this a group of men from Nilin looked on from the hillside curious and worried, every once in a while soldiers fired tear gas canisters up the hill, special for them. A crew from the Israeli Arutz (Channel) 1 television were just in time to catch the last round of gas in person, and of course, even though they did mention the investigation surrounding Ashraf Abu Rahme's shooting there wasn't a word about the women's protest in tonight's news program. There was also no mention that the Palestinian from Nilin arrested at today's demonstration is the father of the girl who shot the video bringing the case international attention. None of the other arrest of a Canadian citizen, or other injuries of the day, including rubber bullets, gas exposure, plus other bruises and scratches. Etc.
More women's actions to follow.
Sunday and Thursday we had in Ni'ilin the usual demonstrations against the separation fence (we usually have 3 to 5 demonstrations each week since the works on the route of the separation fence. Lot of media and international activists came to the demonstrations. (More than 50 internationals from France on Thursday.)
As usual, when we approached the work site of the route of the separation fence, Israeli state forces assaulted us with tear gas to begin with and shooting of rubber coated bullets added not much later. Tis week we were not very successful as we could not stop the work even for a short time. However, due to a lucky video clip of a girl of the village which documented the shooting of the tied Ashraf by a soldier while the lieutenant-colonel holding Ashraf, all the Israeli media was reporting about the struggle. It was also in the British BBC. The Israeli war minister had to denounce such actions (especially when they are documented....)
Some minutes of satisfaction I had today when I walked in a round about road towards the machines working on the route and seen a unit of border police all coughing and rubbing their eyes as the tear gas they threw on the demonstrators was returned to them by a Palestinian friendly wind.
* Often, people of the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative do not mention the group name - especially when other Israeli radicals join us.