On Monday and Tuesday, Israeli and international activists joined residents of Ni’ilin, Beit Liqya and Jayyous, in events commemorating Land Day, a date on which Palestinians remember victims of a general strike called by Arabs living in Israel on March 30, 1976, in protest of massive land confiscations - which left six Arab citizens dead and hundreds injured and imprisoned). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMXhkC5bj64 Ni'ilin Monday Land Day video. Friday, activists of The Anarchists Against the wall (including those of the Jerusalem region involved during the week in joint struggles there), joined the regular demonstrations at Bil'in, Ni’ilin, and Um Salmuna (The Ma’asara). 3-4-09 video: Ni'ilin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B9tq9SDcU4 | Bil'in: www.youtube.com/watch?v=F09naRPK__M
Ni’ilin, Jayyous and Beit Liqya Commemorate Land Day 30/31 March
Land Day demonstration marches through Ni'ilin's main street http://awalls.org/files/images/NiilinLandDayBanner.jpg The demonstration, organized by Ni’ilin’s Popular Committee, began at 14:00 in the village’s center, with a few dozen people marching through the main street with flags and a large banner up front, as well as cars and vans, decorated with huge flags and playing songs of resistance, driving around the village. As soon as demonstrators reached the area where the village’s olive tree plantations begin, they were stopped by a line of armed Border Police soldiers, who arbitrarily announced that the march cannot proceed any further. Residents tried to engage the soldiers and explained to them, in both Arabic and Hebrew, the gravity of their situation, the injustice of the occupation and of the wall, which are the reasons they continue protesting week after week. However, after standing in front of the Israeli troops for about 20 minutes, most demonstrators decided to avoid a confrontation and walked back to the village, while a handful sat down on the dirt road in protest and were ultimately dispersed with a teargas grenade.
A cloud of teargas engulfs the area, Ni'ilin
Approximately at the same time, in a different area, where military jeeps were seen parked close to the outskirts of the village, clashes erupted between the soldiers and young people from the village, with troops firing teargas canisters into the village and people throwing stones at them in return, accompanied by the occasional firecracker. The clashes moved and spread between several of the village’s fields, with army jeeps even entering the village at one point, only to retreat almost immediately.
Together, demonstrators and masked stone throwers proceeded to complete the planned march in the direction of the separation barrier, and upon reaching it even managed to cause limited damage to the fence and metal posts, before having to disperse on the hilly terrain when troops arrived at the scene. Clashes between soldiers, who fired teargas canisters as well as rubber-coated steel bullets, and young people responding with slingshots, continued until sunset on the southern hills between Ni’ilin and the separation barrier. No injuries were reported.
Young stone throwers face Israeli troops in the fieldsYoung stone throwers face Israeli troops on the outskirts of Ni'ilin
In Jayyous, around 150 people gathered at the center of the village and marched to the southern point of the separation barrier, close to the village. Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, chanted slogans against the wall and the occupation, and were accompanied by two pickup trucks loaded with olive tree seedlings. Unlike in most of the weekly protests against the wall in Jayyous, this week the Israeli army was not ready and waiting for the crowd as it reached the separation barrier, and so the tree planting was quickly underway, with many people, old and young, taking the seedlings and planting them on the village’s land.
Shortly after, two army jeeps appeared, and soldiers ordered the participants to stop planting and head back to the village, the reason given by their commander being that stones had been thrown at the fence of the separation barrier. When demonstrators ignored these orders and continued with their work, soldiers tried in vain to disperse the crowd by hurling concussion grenades at them. Soon, more troops arrived – some of which drove into the village – but nevertheless demonstrators carried on and managed to accomplish the tree planting. After the event was over, as people returned to the village, there were small skirmishes between soldiers, who fired teargas canisters, and a few of the village’s youth, who fought the army with stones. No one was reported injured.
Planting olive trees near Mahayub A'assi's grave, Beit Liqya. Photo: ISM Palestine
In Beit Liqya - where the event commemorating Land Day took place one day after, on Tuesday - about 300 people joined by other villages as well as Israeli and International activists congregated at the village center and marched towards the separation barrier, to the energetic sounds of bands of youth drummers, chanting and carrying flags and banners. Once the demonstration reached the vicinity of the separation barrier, near a monument raised in memory of Mahayub A'assi (a 15-year old boy from the village murdered at that very spot by Israeli soldiers in 2005), people began planting the olive tree seedlings they brought along.
As some of the younger members of the crowd moved closer to the fences of the separation barrier, clashes took place between young residents of the village, using slingshots, and Israeli troops shooting teargas canisters, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition at them. Gradually, soldiers began advancing towards the demonstrators, who were still planting olive trees nearby, and shot rubber-coated steel bullets at them too, injuring several people. Troops continued shooting at the crowd even after organizers of the event ended the tree-planting and people were returning to the village.
******** FRIDAY ********
This Friday in Bil'in: The demonstration was joined by about 20 internationals and 10 Israelis. Local participation was smaller than usual, and the atmosphere quite cosy. The avantgarde marched drumming and dancing, until we all reached the gates, where we were greeted with a relatively mild offering of shock grenades and gas. For about half an hour we witnessed a relatively moderate exchange of stones, gas and rubber bullets, while the drummers merrily held their ground, and the demonstrators chanted pro-refusenik and anti-occupation slogans. Then the army increased the gas dosage, concentrating it up-wind from the demo, and most demonstrators retreated. The drum was taken over by Um Ja'ber, who gathered around her the people who had retreated, until the shabab and the army had enough and all demonstrators left the area. I know of one wounded person: a photographer hit in his leg with a rubber bullet.
A peaceful weekend to all, Roy.
Ma'asara Friday demonstration report
Report: Anti wall demonstration in Ma’asara and villages near Bethlehem.
Around 13:30 about 80 residents of the village gathered together with international and Israeli activists, near the entrance to the village. They were joined with a group from Bethlehem supporters of Dr. Mustafa Al Barguti. The demonstrators marched towards the rout of the wall, but similar to last months, were stopped by soldiers who put barb wire at the entrance. Tens of soldiers and border policemen were present. The demonstrators tried to cross the barb wire but were violently pushed back by the soldiers. Then a large group of anti riot police force arrived and it looked as if they are planning to charge on the demonstrators. The organizers declared of the end of the event. When everybody turned back to the village the soldiers shot extremely hot tear gas at them.
In Ni’ilin, as residents tried to gather at noon for the traditional prayers at their usual spot, near the village’s clinic, they discovered Israeli troops were already there, occupying the very same place. Soldiers fired teargas canisters at anyone trying to make their way uphill towards the village’s clinic, and so the prayers were moved to a different location. Afterwards, a protest march set off from the center of the village, circumventing the hill were the soldiers positioned themselves, through the fields. Protesters managed to get to the barrier, and soon many members of the crowd began attacking it, trying to dismantle or sabotage the fences and barbed wire by which Ni’ilin’s lands are being stolen. As soldiers and border police jeeps arrived on the other side of the fence, they began firing teargas canisters and rounds of live ammunition at the crowd, to which some responded with slingshots. Eventually the demonstration was forced to retreat further and further, and the confrontation moved back inside the village, where residents set up barricades and tried to fight off troops with stones as well as paintbombs. Clashes continued until soldiers finally retreated from the village and left the area. One young Palestinian was injured from live ammunition. The bullet went through two of his fingers, and he was transferred to a hospital in Ramallah.
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