by the ISM Media team, December 15th
Today’s demonstration in Bil’in was relatively peaceful, with less violence from the soldiers than there has been in the past. However, they still used rubber bullets and tear gas to attack Palestinian youth who threw stones in defense of their village.
Accompanied by around 15 international supporters and the stalwarts of the Israeli anti-occupation movement, the villagers of Bil’in, led by the popular committee, marched against the wall. Chanting Arabic slogans against the wall, and telling the soldiers to go home in Hebrew, the demonstrators were stopped at the wall by a unit of Israeli soldiers.
As usual, the gate in the wall was blocked by the Israeli forces, who had tightly wrapped razor-wire around it to prevent its removal. The demonstrators intended to pass to the annexed village land. Palestinians and their international supporters are often allowed to pass this gate during the week. However, this is changing more recently as the wall in Bil’in is now all but complete.
On demonstration days (every Friday) no one is allowed to pass, however. The popular committee decided to try and find another way through the large coils of razor wire on the near side of the wall. Some of the demonstrators tried to remove the wire by pulling at this. These attempts were soon stopped by some soldiers who had followed them along the route of the wall.
The area between the razor wire and the wall was held by a handful of the protesters for about 20 minutes.
The soldiers prevented more from joining them. Eventually, the popular committee decided to wrap up the demonstration and called on the demonstrators to follow them back into the village as one group.
On the way back, Israeli border police who had taken up aggressive positions in and near houses on the outskirts of the village began to attack Bil’in youth who had enough of them and had started to throw stones at them.
The soldiers shot rubber-coated steel bullets at them, causing some minor injuries. There was also a failed attempt to use tear gas which was dispersed by the wind. When the demonstration had made it back to the village, the distinct sound of live fire was heard from the direction of the soldiers.