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It takes a village

Stefan Christoff | Hour

7 May 2009

Montreal’s ties to illegal Israeli settlement

In April, Palestinian activist Bassam Ibrahim Abou Rahme was killed by Israeli military forces after being shot at close range by a teargas canister, becoming the 18th Palestinian to have been killed for protesting against the Israeli wall being built in Bil’in, a farming village.

“Bassam was a leader from the Bil’in movement against Israeli apartheid. Everyone in the village loved Bassam, who regularly worked with Israeli activists,” remembers Abdullah Abu Rahme, a Bil’in resident and activist.

Local residents have held weekly demonstrations every Friday in attempts to alert the world to their cause.

Rahme says Bil’in has been severely impacted by the construction of the security wall, which will annex around 50 per cent of village lands, mainly farm lands. In some areas, the wall towers over eight metres high and is fortified by armed military watchtowers. The village is also battling Israeli attempts to build illegal settlements on the land, a project with ties to Montreal.

Bil’in has launched a lawsuit in the Quebec Superior Court against two companies registered locally, Green Park International and Green Mount International, who are currently helping to build an Israeli-only settlement on land within Bil’in’s municipal jurisdiction.

“Israel is colonizing our land and stealing it for future generations. They are trying to erase Palestine,” explains Rahme.

In June 2009, Bil’in village is scheduled to have a series of court dates that will determine if the lawsuit filed with Quebec Superior Court will be heard.

A solidarity protest with Bil’in village is scheduled for Friday, May 8, at noon outside Indigo bookstore (corner of Ste-Catherine and McGill College).