The Israeli state and its forces knew that the joint struggle of the anarchists against the wall and the Bil'in popular comity against the separation fence means trouble. They tried hard to extinguish the flame of the struggle when it just started. They vacillated along the years between the various repression measures - limited by the Israeli public opinions, but failed. They used the Bil'in village as a testing field for "non lethal" means for dispersion of crowds... They resigned in dismay to see the joint non armed struggle expand to other villages and to other aspects of occupation. Even this weekend, in parallel to the special mobilization for the 5th anniversary demonstration in Bil'in, we had the joint demos in Maasara, Ni'ilin' Nabi Saleh, and Sheikh Jarrah.
Five years of a joint struggle lead by the Bil'in village popular comity against the fence with the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall initiative, and international activists. Five years of direct actions and popular demonstrations on each Friday - suppressed by force, nearly two and a half years since the High Court of Justice ordered to change the route of the wall, dozens of nightly army invades into the village, hundreds of arrests, dozens of trials, leaders in jail or prohibited of taking part in the demonstration – and the struggle continues!
Today (Friday 19-2-10) Bil'in commemorated the fifth anniversary of popular demonstrations against the settlements and the Apartheid Wall. Israel's occupation has confiscated over 50% of Bil'in's land. Only last week the construction work to reroute the Wall began, nearly two and a half years after the High Court of Justice ordered the Wall to be moved. Approximately 30% of land will be returned to the village.
Throughout the past five years, Bil'in's non-violent demonstrations have met with severe army violence, injuring over 1,200 people and killing one person. Another 85 villagers have been arrested for organizing or merely taking part in the demonstrations (22 are still in jail). The Israeli Occupation Army terrorizes the entire village, entering Bil'in at nights, often using sound bombs and tear gas.
Today's mass demonstration counted more than 1000 activists (hundreds from all across the West Bank, about 300 Israelis - mostly mobilized by the AAtW initiative, and many internationals) who supported Bil'in's resistance and encouraged the villagers to continue its struggle.
A complex logistic operation of the A.A.t.Wall travel agency brought over 300 people from Israel to Bil'in's 5th anniversary demonstration. Despite several attempts, the army managed to prevent only a small number of cars from entering the village. The demonstrators joined radical clowns, a Palestinian prime minister, the Ka/Ya-Samba percussionists, representatives of various Palestinian parties, The Palestinian Struggle Youth Union marching band, one mayor from Geneva, dozens of journalists and supporters from all over Palestine and other parts of the world to express solidarity with the local wo/men of Bil'in in their struggle against the evils of the Israeli Occupation. After a string of speeches in various languages and a jam session of the Palestinian marching band and the percussionists residing between the wall and the Mediterranean, over 1,000 people marched to the wall.
As often done by the Israeli state force who use Bil'in as a testing field, they took the opportunity to do that this Friday too:
Upon arrival at the Wall, the Israeli Occupation Forces seemed to be absent, and the gate in the electronic fence was open - which was an open invitation for the demonstrators to cross the gate towards the Palestinian lands and to get access to the military outpost.
The soldiers hide behind their usual post, and so the crowd of the demonstrators broke forward, crossed the gate, bent the fence and started tearing it down, crossed it, and marched over to the soldiers' front outpost adjacent to the gate, and few placed a Palestinian flag on top of it.
After a few minutes of ecstasy, while dignitaries were still making their way forward, the army's foul water cannon made a surprise guest appearance - this time in much higher concentration than in the previous "trials". This managed to push the demonstrators back behind the fence.
In a typical expression of oppression, after the demonstrators backed away from the smelly water, the army used a cannon to fire dozens of gas canisters - not into the few demonstrators at the front, but rather into the hundreds retreating or standing peacefully behind. The wind coming down the path combined with the panic of inexperienced demonstrators led to many injuries from gas inhalation, impact and falling. After the initial dispersal some demonstrators remained to absorb exceptionally large amounts of gas for the struggle.
Dozens of people suffered from tear gas inhalation and at least ten people were directly injured by the canisters.
As has become customary lately, when the last demonstrators were on their way to the village, a few soldiers invaded the village, but due to the massive presence of supporters, they settled for one more round of gas, returning to bask in their own stench.
Friday 19.2 Bil'in videos
David - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwAShPgEASs
Haitham - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quSVqqEao4c
Israel - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd02nfZiNHc
On Monday 22-2-10 there will be two hearings at the Ofer military prison, regarding the incarceration of Abdallah Abu Rahmah from Bil'in.
Friday night news of:
Channel 24 of France - news in English
Channel 10 and 2 of commercial TV
BBC News http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8523221.stm
First page of the Haaretz daily:
"Israeli Occupation Forces aggressively dispersed a peaceful demonstration of Palestinians protesting the construction of the Israeli apartheid wall through their land in the Occupied West Bank town of Al Ma'sara on Friday afternoon.
Approximately 100 Palestinians and 20 internationals and Israelis gathered to protest against the construction of the illegal barrier. The demonstration took place with the participation of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine for their 41st anniversary. The Barrier is built on the land of the villagers of Al Ma'sara and will block the residents from their farmland. They have already lost more than 350 hectares of land to a nearby Israeli Settlement.
Like every Friday, men and women of all ages gathered after the Friday prayer and marched through the main road of the village and this week they decide to march on the road where settlers used. where the organizers of The Popular Committee Against the Wall in Al Ma'sara gave speeches. The demonstrators then walked toward their land at which time Israeli soldiers in a jeep approached, exited and began firing tear gas and throwing concussion grenades into the group. The group quickly dispersed and the soldiers chased them into the village and continued firing tear gas at the demonstrators.
One of the participators 18 years injured and 10's of people suffered from tear gas even the people who are in their homes.
Mahmoud Zwahra Al-Ma'sara village - Bethlehem"
Fewer attended the other demonstrations than normal. Around 100 villagers and solidarity activists marched through Nabi Saleh toward the Hallamish settlement, which has stolen their land and water. Israeli security responded brutally, opening fire with rubber bullets and tear gas. Ten people were reported injured, including an International activist from Sweden who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. The activist was discharged with stitches but no permanent damage. Several witnesses corroborated the use of live ammunition toward the end of the protest, a claim subsequently denied by IDF spokesman. After tensions had subsided, the army established a roadblock on all traffic heading east out of the village, which locals claim was not moved until the following evening.
Young Arafat the persistent video recorder arrest: http://blip.tv/file/3230266
Popular committee spokesman Akram Khawaja reported 100 protestors including international and Israeli supporters took part. They marched toward the wall with the Palestinian flag, shouting and singing their message; “The Wall Must Fall”. Israeli soldiers responded rubber bullets and tear gas, dispersing the march. Three young men, all under 18, were shot with rubber bullets and treated on site by Red Crescent ambulances. There were no arrests. Khawaja revealed his pride that “the guys reached the barrier and for the first time they cut out a part of the fence.” This followed an Israeli army announcement that popular demonstrations are costing them large sums of money by forcing them to repair and re-route the apartheid wall.
Video link: http://www.youtube.com/user/NilinMediaGroup#p/a/u/0/xuJXr-e5hIs
We will gather in Sheikh Jarrah for a protest watch at 15:30
Justice Meets the Snake of Occupation:
About 150 people came to the demonstration in Sheik Jarrah yesterday evening. “Tzedek” (Justice) a giant puppet-demonstrator controlled by three people made his first debut, and the “snake of occupation”, slithered through the crowd. A marching band rallied the crowd with the support of the neighborhood kids on a mega phone leading chants. Police and Special Forces were present to prevent activists from entering the community to show their support for evicted Palestinian families. Settlers could be seen mingling with the police as the demonstration went on. The settlers were allowed to cross the police barricade at will. Prison service police were also present.
A giant snake representing the occupation was constructed out of cardboard boxes. Each segment of the snake symbolized a different part of the occupation including settlements, racism, land grab, siege, political prisoners, obstruction of water, etc. As the snake crossed the road between the demonstration and the police-barricaded Shiek Jarrah community, the activist who was holding the snake’s head was arrested.
One of the activists holding a segment of the snake commented, “We wanted to show that the injustice happening here in Israel and Palestine is a bigger than just Sheik Jarrah. “
Sharihan Hannoun, was present at the demonstration. She is one of the residents who was forcibly removed from her home which is now inhabited by Jewish settlers.
“Our problem is not with the Jews, they are the ones that say the problem is religious. Our problem is the fascist state,” said Sharihan who stood next her mother and other people from the neighborhood. “We need many people to come and support us each week.” Sharihan and her family now live in a tent on the street outside her family’s home.
Many of the activist who celebrated the fifth anniversary of the struggle in Bil'in joined the ongoing demonstration.