UPDATE, 27th of September: By now the sign has been practically destroyed by Israeli colonist settlers. The plan to build the hotel is going ahead.
UPDATE, 12.30 am: The villagers of Bil’in have successfully inaugurated their project to build a hotel on their land in the illegal settlement. A sign detailing their plans was erected and the foundation stone laid. No-one was detained or arrested. As of this writing, the sign is still standing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This morning at 10 am, residents of Bil’in, the Palestinian village that has become the very symbol of non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation announced their intention to build a hotel on land belonging to the village, but occupied by Israel. Villagers erected a 5×3 meter sign-post advertising the forthcoming hotel called ‘Falastin’, and intend to submit a planning application to the Israeli Civil Administration which is responsible for civilian matters on occupied Palestinian land.
The village land is behind the illegal apartheid barrier that the Israeli military has enforced on the village. The sign has been erected in the illegal settlement of Matityahu East near to the apartments Bil’in villagers tried to move into in July, and the project was inaugurated with the laying of a foundation stone.
In a similar way to Bil’in villagers’ attempt back in July to legally move into an apartment building in the Israeli settlement, this measure is both symbolic and practical. The intention is genuinely to build a hotel on the land. At the same time, the action is being undertaken to highlight the apartheid nature of the Israeli legal system. The Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction forbidding the occupation of apartments in the Matityahu East settlement as this land was stolen from Bil’in through fraudulent land purchases – the affidavit affirming the transfer of ownership was signed by an attorney representing the settlers, instead of by the head of Bil’in, as is required. However, Jewish settlers have been moving into apartments in Matityahu East in defiance of the Supreme Court and with the complicity of the police and military.
In stark contrast to this treatment of settlers, during the attempted move-in in July, after the Bil’in arrvived in the empty apartments in Matityahu East, the military declared the area a closed military zone and Border Police forcibly evicted the families and removed them to the other side of the apartheid wall.
In July the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the construction company responsible for the expansion of the illegal settlement to demolish two partial structures, restore some of the land to its previous pre-colonial agricultural state and build an access road for Bil’in villagers. The company demolished the structures last month in order to boost their chances of gaining retrospective permission for the other apartments built illegally, but no attempt has yet been made to fulfill the other parts of the court’s decision.
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