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Bil’in Prisoner Solidarity Demonstration Report

based on a report by IMEMC

Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber coated bullets at a non-violent protest against the Separation Wall in Bil’in village, near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday.

The protest started midday Friday after dozens of residents, peace activists and representatives of Physicians without Borders, marched towards a construction site of the Separation Wall while wearing mock handcuffs in a creative protest that symbolized the captivity of the Bil’in residents who have been arrested in recent military invasions of the village.

Abdullah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, told the IMEMC that this protest was carried out to express the rejection of residents and international peace activists to the recent attacks and invasions carried out by the army against the village, and to protest against the construction of the Separation Wall.

The Popular Committee in Bil’in reported that the main aim of the demonstration this week was to protest the Israeli invasions of the village. It also aimed to draw attention to the arrests which aim to scare the residents and the activists from taking action against the Wall.

Abu Rahme also said that soldiers carried lists which included names of dozens of residents from the village. Soldiers claim that those residents are wanted by Israeli security for their activities in the protests against the Wall.

The protestors carried banners which read “we are all wanted, from 1 – 2600”, the number of 2600 symbolizes the number of residents living in Bil’in.

The protestors also carried banners in Arabic, Hebrew and English, reading: “Date 20-2-2005, penalty; uprooting thee trees, arrest and injuring the residents, night invasions, curfew and siege”. The date refers to the date when Israel started bulldozing the residents’ orchards in order to construct the Separation Wall.

One Israeli peace activist was detained by the soldiers on Friday; two Israeli protestors and one Palestinian were injured after the army fired rubber-coated bullets. Dozens of residents and activists suffered the effects of inhaling tear-gas fired by the army.

Abu Rahme reported that soldiers and under-cover units of the Israeli army have recently been invading the village on an almost daily basis, and breaking into dozens of homes in an attempt to intimidate the residents.

Dozens of residents were arrested in the village since it started conducting its peaceful protests against the Wall. Last Wednesday, Israeli soldiers invaded the village after midnight and forced dozens of families out of their homes after breaking into them.

“Today’s protest was also in support of the detainees who were arrested in the village during the military raids”, Abu Rahme said.

Earlier on Friday, Israeli soldiers barred reporters and students of Bier Zeit University from entering the village to participate in the protest.

The residents aided several journalists in crossing into the village after the army closed all of its entrances; the journalists were escorted through the orchards and hills.

Also, protestors carried the names of the eleven residents who were arrested last week in the village, and demanded that the army release them.

Soldiers closed the three entrances of the village and installed military roadblocks early in the morning,. The three entrances link the village with Kharbatah Bani Hareth village, Saffa village, and the village if Kafer Ni’ma.