For Immediate Release
Tomorrow 36 members of the French Parliament and regional mayors will join the people of Bil’in for their weekly protest against the apartheid wall and settlements. Palestinian, Israeli and international protestors will meet at 12pm by the mosque in Bil’in village to march to a site near the Modi’in Illit settlement.
The popular committee of Bil’in have been organizing weekly protests for almost three years now, culminating in an Israeli supreme court decision to reroute the apartheid wall further west to give Bilin 250 acres of its land back.
However, the protest continues as the supreme court also rejected a petition to stop the construction of another Israeli settlement, Mattiyahu East, on Bil’ins land even further to the west. Israel, with US support, appears determined to retain major West Bank settlement blocs, including one west of Bil’in, that carve the West Bank into bantustans.
The weekly protest started In December, 2004 when the Israeli army started bulldozing village land and uprooting olive trees to build the wall. Palestinians, Israelis and internationals suffered patiently together as the soldiers met the nonviolent actions with teargas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and clubs. Over 800 have activists have been injured in 200 demonstrations. An Israeli attorney and a Bil’in resident both suffered permanent brain damage from rubber-coated steel bullets shot from close range. Another Palestinian lost sight in one eye. 49 Bil’in residents, including some protest leaders have arrested, even had their houses raided by the army. Some people have spent months in prison.
Creative activities are a regular feature of the protests. One Friday, activists locked themselves inside a cage, representing the wall’s impacts. Another time, a Palestinian “outpost” was built on village land located behind the wall and next to an Israeli settlement, mimicking the Israeli strategy of establishing outposts to expand settlements.
Another Friday protestors handed the Israeli soldiers a letter saying, “Had you come here as guests, we would show you the trees that our grandfathers planted here, and the vegetables that we grow… There will never be security for any of us until Israelis respect our rights to this land.”
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