Israeli Troops Attack Anti-Wall Weekly Protests, Bil’in Celebrates the Removal of the Wall

PNN – Palestine News Network – 01.07.11 – 17:31

Ramallah – PNN – Dozens were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation on Friday as Israeli troops attacked the weekly anti-wall protests in a number of West Bank communities. This week, protests were reported in the villages of al-Nabi Salleh, Bil’in, and Nil’in in the central West Bank, as well as al-Ma’ssara in the south.

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Villagers Remove the Wall in Bil’in Today – Photo by Haytham al-Khatib

This week the village of Bil’in celebrated the removal of the wall on local farmers’ lands. International and Israeli supporters joined the villages and held the midday prayers at the lands that Israeli returned to the farmers. Later a small festival was held by the villagers and local men and women preformed the Palestinian folklore dance, Dabka. As part of the new form of struggle villagers decided to build one house on the freed lands to encourage village to start a new section of the village there.

Residents of Bil’in started to organize a weekly nonviolent protest against the Israeli wall six and half years ago. In September 2007 the villagers continued protesting; and the legal proceedings managed to get to the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice, to order a halt to the wall construction. The court ruled for a re-routing of the section of wall built on Bil’in’s land. Due to the ruling, the villagers got back 275 of the 600 acres Israel took for the wall and the nearby settlement of Modi’in Illit.  In 2004 the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled the Israeli wall illegal.

In February of last year, after two years of stalling, the Israeli army began rerouting the wall by constructing a new one. Last week the new wall was finished and army bulldozers started to remove the old one away; a scene that Bil’in villagers are not accustomed to.

Even with the peaceful nature of the Bil’in protests the army faced it with violence, leading to death. In January 2010 Jawaher Abu Rahmah was killed due to severe tear gas inhalation. Her brother Bassem was killed as well when an Israel soldier shot him in the chest with a tear gas bomb in April of 2009. Locals estimate that 1400 people were injured by the army fire in Bil’in protests since they started and as many as 140 people arrested.

Near Bil’in one medic and one journalist were injured on Friday as troops attacked the weekly protest at the village of al-Nabi Salleh. After the midday prayers, protestors marched to the settlement construction site, where troops attacked them with tear gas before leaving the village. One medic was hit with a gas bomb in his leg and an Israeli journalist in his arm. Troops later surrounded the village and searched cars leaving al-Nabi Salleh.

Also in central west Bank on Friday an anti wall protest was held in the nearby village of Nil’in, where the residents and their Israeli and international supporters held the Friday midday prayers near the Israeli wall. The protestors then marched up to the wall, marking the third year of their resistance against it. Troops fired tear gas at protesters causing many to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

In southern west Bank on Friday, villagers and their international and Israeli supporters protested against the wall and settlements in al-Ma’sara village near Bethlehem. Israeli troops stopped villagers from reaching the construction side of the wall, and fired tear gas at them to force them back into the village. Many were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.

Bil’in celebration today photos by Iyas Abu Rahmah

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