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Showered with tear gas on Nakba day

from A-Infos, 19 May 2007

This Friday the theme of the demonstration in Bil’in was the Nakba. This week marked 59 years from the formal robbery of most of the Palestinian lands by the Israeli settler colonialists with blessing of the United Nation and the big imperial powers. We marched at noon on the road leading to the route of the separation fence – Palestinians from the village and the region; international activists; Israelis organized by the anarchists against the wall (AATW) initiative; and media workers of all kinds. Among the participants from Ramallah, were people of the Popular Democratic Front (of Naif Hawatme). One of them was old enough to remember the exchanging of texts between their journals and the Israeli anti-authoritarian anti capitalist (anti Zionist) journal Matspen….

Most of the marchers carried small placards – each with the name of one of the about 500 villages destroyed in 1948 by the Israeli expansionist forces.

When we arrived at the foot of the hill on its top is located the gate to the robed lands on the other side of the separation fence, we encountered a line of barbed wire and lot of soldiers half the way up the hill. Their commander declared with the loudspeaker that there is a military closed space just behind the barbed wire. He warned with retaliation and arrest people who will cross the line.

The people at the head moved aside the barbed wire spool and continued to advance – and got immediately a shower of tear gas canisters.

The tear gas detered most of the people who retreated a hundred meters and dispersed among the olive trees on the side of the road. A small group of comrades who succeeded to march up the hill got a special shower of tear gas and was forced to join the rest of us.

For more than two hours there were waves of people regrouping and advancing a bit, and showers of tear gas forcing us to retreat. At some point, olive trees in the groove were set on fire by the shooting of tear gas grenades, and demonstrators worked to extinguish the fire in spite of the tear gas.

In their efforts to disperse the demonstration soldiers even invaded the fringe of the built area of the village.

After the fires were extinguished the demonstration was ended. I could see one comrade carrying a 20 liter bucket full of tear gas canisters as a kind of trophy – a small part of the hundreds fired on us this day.