Bilin, 28th July 2007.
Approximately 300 international, Palestinian and Israeli non-violent demonstrators came together for the 129th Bilin demonstration against the illegal Apartheid wall. The demonstrators came from all backgrounds and included children as young as five through to women, men and elderly internationals, Israelis and Palestinians.
The demonstration took a different route than usual and entered the olive groves from the far left hand side through a small road close to the wall. Upon entering the Olive groves, the soldiers almost immediately began firing tear gas canisters and sound grenades at the demonstrators who were peacefully walking towards the Apartheid wall. Despite demonstrators being hundreds of meters away from the Wall and not posing any threat to the soldiers or the Wall itself the soldiers used severe aggression without just cause. Demonstrators made significant attempts to avoid the tear gas however due to the direction of the wind, many of the demonstrators were severely affected by the gas, including one international male who required attention by the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Despite initial attempts by the soldiers to disperse the demonstrators, the non-violent activists persevered in getting their message across that the Apartheid wall must fall and that the people of Bilin and the internationals say No to the Occupation. The peaceful demonstrators faced rubber bullets being fired seemingly without reason and in a completely indiscriminate manner, as well as tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators. It was only through great fortune that there were no reports of serious injury as a consequence.
Due to the heat of the day and the excessive use of tear gas, fires were started within the Olive groves. Unfortunately due to the direction of the wind, a large fire took hold in a section of the groves and approximately ten Olive trees were severely burned and damaged. Demonstrators were keen to preserver the trees however the fire was too strong for them to overcome and they had to retreat.
Due to the recent death within the village of a local Palestinian woman who died whilst giving birth, there was a conscious effort by organizers to reduce the length of the demonstration out of respect to the family and friends of the deceased. As such after approximately an hour, the organizers brought the demonstration to a close.