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Bil’in Demo Cancelled by IOF Violence

by the ISM media team and IMEMC,

Officials and supporters of the Palestinian Fateh movement joined together with residents of Bil’in, as well as international and Israeli activists for the commemoration of the forty-second anniversary of the founding of the Fateh movement and a demonstration against Israel’s Annexation Wall.

Jabril Rajoub, of Fateh, commended the unanimity amongst Paletinians fostered within Bil’in, and cited the death of Yasser Arafat as significant catalyst toward the curent political crisis. The void left by Arafat, he said, combined with an absence of unified leadership, has led to endemic problems such as a lack of security, employment and such basic necessessities as food and education. Kais abu Leyla, also of Fateh, echoed the call for unity between Islamic and nationalist parties, to put an end to factionalism and restore a cohesive Palestinian resistance to the Occupation.

Muhammad Baraka, member of Knesset, condemed ongoing Palestinian infighting and called for an immediate cessation of factional violence, commending the village of Bil’in for the example it has shown.

Before commencing the march toward the Wall, featured speakers extended their thanks to
international and Israeli activists who have worked alongside the residents of Bil’in in their efforts against the Annexation Wall. The village has lost approximately 60% of its land, primarily agricultural, to the construction of the barrier and the illegal expansion of the Modin Illit settlement directly adjacent. Residents of Bil’in and their supporters have demonstrated and conducted non-violent direct action against the Wall every Friday for nearly two years.

Following the rally in the village center, over five hundred demonstrators marched toward an access gate to the Wall where Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) awaited them. A much bolstered force accompanied the soldiers typically stationed in the area, possibly in advanced preparation of the well-publicized march and in the aftermath of Thursday’s Israeli invasion into Ramallah that claimed four Palestinian lives and left twenty wounded, several critically. A large contingent of Israeli Border Police indicated a preparedness to conduct mass arrests.

Israeli soldiers took positions at several locations along the expanse of the primary fence and almost immediately attacked the peaceful demonstration, though the majority of marchers had not yet arrived at the barrier. The IOF fired a vehicle-mounted water and tear gas cannon which some of the youth responded to by throwing stones.

The soldiers then began firing tear gas canisters indiscriminately into the crowd spread out over a large area as well as rubber-coated metal bullets and percussion grenades.

After the crowd had dispersed due to the massive amounts of tear gas used, the IOF pursued villagers well into a residential area of the village, firing continuously at the youth who were resisting with stones, with the water cannon and rubber-coated bullets.

Several Bil’in residents were injured, including at least one who was taken to the hospital for treatment and some other marchers with breathing difficulties suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. An Israeli activist also received first aid after suffering burns from a tear gas canister.

For more information on the injured, please contact Abdullah at 054-725-8210:

Suleilman Khalid Khatub (17) shot with rubber-coated bullet in back
Wael Fahmi Nasser (29) shot with rubber-coated bullet in leg
Farahat Ibrahim Hashem (26) shot with rubber-coated bullet in leg
Hiyam Abed al Al (15) tear gas inhalation
Khaled Showkat al Khatib (20) shot with rubber-coated bullet in hand
Ashraf Muhammad Jamal al Khatib (26) shot with rubber-coated bullet in leg
Jonathan Pollak, Israel (25) tear gas canister burns to hand
Ahmad Issa Yasin (50) tear gas inhalation