19 February 2010
One week following the victory forcing Israel to begin rerouting the path of the Wall, and under the shadow of an unprecedented wave of repression against the popular struggle, over a thousand protesters took part in a demonstration at the west Bank village of Bil’in, marking five years of struggle there. At the height of the demonstration dozens of protesters stormed the Barrier, toppled some 40 meters of it and crossed to village’s lands. Protesters also managed to take over a military post adjacent to the path of the Wall for a short time.
In a show of support of the popular struggle and the village of Bil’in, hundreds from all across the West Bank joined the demonstration today, as well as many Israeli and international activists. Among the many supporters were also the mayor of Geneva, Nabil Sh’ath, Mustafa Barghouthi and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who said that popular resistance like the one employed in Bil’in can tip international public opinion against the Occupation.
During the demonstration two demonstrators were lightly hurt. One was struck with a tear-gas projectile in the leg and another was shot in the stomach by a rubber-coated bullet.
“The Israeli court had already ruled two years ago that the Wall here should be rerouted, but it is our struggle, not their court, that forces the Army to implement this decision now” Said Mohammed Khatib, an organizer from the village. “The International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that the Wall should be dismantled in its entirety, and not just partially like the Israeli court had ordered. Today the demonstrators made an important step towards the implementation of this decision” Khatib added.
Last week, 2.5 years after an Israeli Supreme Court decision deeming the path of the Wall on the lands of Bil’in illegal, preliminary infrastructure work to reroute the barrier in accordance with the ruling has finally began. Since the ruling, the state has twice been found in contempt of court, for having not implemented the decision.
Roughly 680 dunams of the 2,000 dunams currently sequestered by the Wall will be returned to the village following the court-ordered rerouting of the trajectory. While the rerouting is viewed as a victory, demonstrators vowed protest will continue until the Occupation is over and the Wall is dismantled in its entirety.
Demonstrations against the Wall and settlement expansion also took place today in the villages of alMa’sara, south of Bethlehem, Ni’ilin and Nabi Saleh, where 10 protesters were hit by rubber-coated bullets, including a Swedish national who was struck in the mouth.