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Weekly demonstrations against the Annexation Wall

Spent live ammunition shells found after weekly Bil’in protest

On the 8th of February, around 70 Palestinian, Israeli, and international gathered in the village of Bil’in to demonstrate against the Annexation Wall. The illegal wall steals more than 60% of Bil’in village land. People marched peacefully to the gate in the wall, able to see their stolen land but not access it. On the 4th of September there was a Supreme Court decision which said the wall must move back, and give back half the land it took. This has yet to be implemented, and people are left at the gate to hold signs and chant.

Activists opened the two gates before soldiers, unprovoked, began to shoot rubber-coated steel bullets nearby. Demonstrators were forced back down the hill, where they continued their demonstration. The army continued to fire volley after volley of rubber bullets. Later, as the demonstration wore on, the army came inside the wall and position themselves on the hill, then the tear gas began.

It was not long after that they began to chase activists up the hill, still firing rubber-coated steel bullets dangerously close. Sometime after, people moved back to the village, but one person found spent live ammunition shells nearby where the soldiers were, after they had retreated up the hill. They were not only firing rubber-coated steel bullets at the demonstration, but sometimes live.

Six injured at mass demonstration against Israeli separation wall near Bethlehem

Bethlehem – Ma’an – About 500 Palestinian demonstrators, joined by a handful of Israeli and international supporters, marched towards the construction site of Israel’s separation wall in the village of Al-Khadr on Friday, in what organizers say is one of the largest weekly demonstrations in the West Bank.

At least 30 heavily armed Israeli soldiers and riot police in six jeeps had already blocked the road with barbed wire. At the conclusion of the Friday prayer and just two minutes into the demonstration, the soldiers fired tear gas and sound grenades, dispersing the vast majority of the protesters and injuring six people.

Among the injured was 60-year-old Khalil Salah, who was hospitalized after a sound grenade exploded next to him. Abdullah Khalil was also injured by a sound grenade. Witnesses said three young children were hit by teargas canisters. Their names could not be confirmed at the time of writing.

Organizer Samer Jaber said that his intention was to keep the march peaceful, so as to avoid a confrontation with the Israeli military, but, he said, “[the soldiers] don’t even need an excuse,” to start shooting.

The Israeli government says the wall is intended to keep Palestinians out of Israel for security reasons, but in many cases, the 8-meter concrete barrier keeps Palestinians from other Palestinians, and from their own land. In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled the wall illegal under international law.

Al-Khadr’s mayor, Ramzi Salah said that the completion of the Israeli wall will be devastating, resulting in the confiscation of 90% of the village’s land. Salah said 65% of Al-Khadr residents rely on farming for their livelihood. The wall will also cut off the main road linking Bethlehem to Hebron, affecting a half million Palestinians in both cities, by Salah’s estimate.

Salah said he is proud of the people of his village for “defending our land. Land represents something major for us—something sacred.”

The mayor estimates that the barrier is about one month away from completion in Al-Khadr.

Asked whether he thinks peaceful demonstrations will succeed in stopping the wall, organizer Jaber paused for a second, then answered, “We will do whatever we can—it is a duty.”

Earlier, men and boys from Al-Kadr attended the Friday Muslim prayer on the road leading to the construction site. In a passionate sermon, the Imam denounced Israeli occupation, and also called on the Palestinian Authority leadership, who are currently engaged in peace negotiations with Israel, to visit the village and witness the confiscation of their land. He also chided Arab leaders for “staying silent” in the face of the oppression of Palestinians.

Dany, a 27-year old Jewish Israeli from Tel Aviv said that he and 10 other Israelis attended the protest because “we feel that what is happening in the Occupied Territories is cruel and wrong.”