To mark the one year anniversary of the International Court of Justice decision that the annexation barrier being built by Israel is illegal, hundreds of villagers, Palestinians from surrounding villages, internationals, and Israelis demonstrated in Bil’in on Friday.
The people of Bil’in constructed a three-meter high scale, with Israel on one side and the rest of the world on the other side, “Israel” weighing much more than the “world.” The scale represented the symbolic scales of justice and had a US American flag at the top, giving the message that the USA sees justice as what Israel wants rather than for all peoples from all countries.
Carrying the scale, as well as posters and Palestinian flags, we marched toward the route of the wall chanting in Arabic and enjoying the music from the taxi that accompanied us along our route. Hundreds of meters form the route of the wall we were met by Israeli soldiers and border police we were waiting for us behind a roadblock they had set up with concrete blocks and barbed wire.
The soldiers had also posted documents near the barrier to show us that the area beyond the roadblock was a closed military zone. Upon reaching the roadblock we chanted in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, and then stopped for the midday prayer.
Following the prayer there was some negotiating between the villagers and the Israeli army commander, and the demonstrators removed the barded wire that was lying across the road to the wall. A few moments later the soldiers and police began shooting tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber bullets into the crowd of demonstrators as some of the young Palestinians began to throw stones toward the soldiers.
The demonstration was dispersed into the village at this point, and the soldiers followed the demonstrators, ruthlessly continuing to shoot rubber bullets and some live ammunition. I was standing next to one young Palestinian man who was handing out water to the demonstrators when he was suddenly shot by a rubber bullet in the side of his head. He immediately collapsed, blood rushing from his head, and several people rushed to get him into an ambulance.
When I saw this man shot by an Israeli soldier, my realization of how brutal the occupation is reached a new level. This man was simply offering water to his friends and guests to his village when he was wounded. Being Palestinian it seems is reason enough for the Israeli military to shoot deadly weapons at a person.
At least four other Palestinians were wounded at this demonstration, and two, including the man shot in the head, had to stay overnight in the hospital. The last word I received about him, one day later, was that he was in intensive care, experiencing internal bleeding, and unconscious as a result of his injury.