Bil’in, West of Bethlehem, Jafa – the joint struggle continues
by Ilan S., AATW, 29 April 2007
It was a “regular” Friday demonstration in Bil’in – the 116th since it started 25 months ago. As usual, we started at noon the march towards the route of the separation fence which is used to rob most of the lands of the village for the building additional district in the settler colonialist town Modi’in Ilit. The marchers – Palestinians from the village and the region, internationals, Israelis of the Anarchists Against The Wall initiative, did not choose the road that leads to the Western lands and blocked by the gate of the fence structure. Instead, we went the other direction, part of it through paths within olive groove. We out smarted the Israeli state force who were expecting us in the main road (about kilometer away) to prevent us from coming near the fence – as they did the two previous Fridays. The last few hundred meters where the far away soldiers could see us we were running.
Till the main force of the soldiers arrived, few of us already passes through the razor wire spools and the metal fence beyond on our side of the route of the fence, and stood along the electronic fence. Most of the others stood along the metal rails at the edge of the route – banging on it with stones. The state force tried to drive the intruders and the rest of us who were near by with tear gas grenades, but after they got few of them thrown back – they stopped. They tried the water canon to drive us away – but in the hot spring day it was mainly refreshing us… They tried to arrest two of the ones that were near the electronic fence – but comrades dearested them and the soldiers yielded.
In this unusual situation, the stone throwers who do not approve our nonviolent demonstration and usually disrupt it, were in position among us, but hesitated due to the “interesting” way the demonstration developed, and did not throw stones till the demonstration was declared finished and the nonviolent demonstrators started to disperse.
When part of us tried to pay a visit to the usual site of the Friday demonstration – near the gate on the road leading to the lands of the village West of the fence, the soldiers resisted us with tear gas mainly, and arrested one of the village comity as a way to press us to return to the village faster – promising to release him when we will be on the way to the village. They shoot tear gas canisters to hasten us, but when we were near the houses of the village they released the comrade.
No one was injured seriously this Friday, but many of us were wet and colored by the turquoise powder added to the water of the water cannon.
Today. over a hundred demonstrators from the villages of Beit Fag’ar, Um Salamuna, Wadi An-Nis, Al- Masara, Al-Khadr, and Beit Ommar joind by internationals and Israeli activists made an attempt to block route 60 outside the settlement of Efrrat, the demonstrators carred signs against the building of the apartheid wall in the area south of Bethlehem only a large presence of border police and soldiers who waited in the area managed to keep the demonstrators from blocking the road. Doing this kind of activity in the front door of a big settlement is another step for the struggle in the area .
Long ago, Jaffa was annexed to the Jewish Tel Aviv municipality and settled with lot of Jewish immigrants which “diluted” the remnants of the original Palestinian residents who where not transfered out during the 1948 Nacba.
Last Friday, a few hundred Jafa residents and supporters marched through the city against a move by the municipality to transfer some 500 Arab-Israeli families out of their homes. The marchers included local government officials, a rainbow of local organizations, residents, and supporters from around the country – including activists of the anarchists against the wall. There were cries of ‘Jews and Arabs Against Home Demolitions’ and ‘This Transfer Will Not Pass’, comparing current events to the Nakba in 1948, but altogether the march was a bit subdued. As usual for Jafa protests there was no police presence in sight, to keep things calm but also in reflection of the relationship between the Arab residents and the police. At the end marchers sat in a basketball court overlooking Jaffa’s reef beach, that after years of neglect and 20 years in the planning, is now being converted into a grand park — just in time for the hundreds of new wealthy residents who are entering Ajame neighborhood. Speakers included representatives of the new popular committee established to combat the situation, residents who’s homes have become part of the struggle, and members of organizations supporting it — all were encouraged by the large turnout and hopeful about the days ahead.
At some point anarchists raised a banner with the anarchist “A” and flag but took it down on request of the organizers.