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Iraq Burin demonstrates against settlements

7 August 2009

Today the first demonstration took place in Iraq Burin village. Since there exists an illegal settlement close to the village 100 dunum of land (100,000 square meters) have been confiscated, therefore farmers and shepherds are prohibited to enter their fields and areas close to the settlement, but nowadays already the closest field directly next to the village is forbidden to use after 100 meters. The farmers are faced with the illegitimate Israeli law, which expropriates Palestinian if they have not been to their land for 3 years. Obviously this is a cynical law because the army doesn’t allow farmers to access their land. On the other hand constant attacks from settlers and soldiers happen there. Five years ago settlers shot a man in his leg while he was walking on a hill far away from the settlement. In the nights settlers came to make graffiti like « The People of Israel are alive ». Since three years one shop and three houses have recieved demolishing orders.

On the 7th of August, around 150 inhabitants and a score of international activists started a demonstration in the center of the village with a festive climate. They chanted slogans against the Occupation and for their legitimate right to access of their land. The demonstration marched towards the land where settler presence has stopped the residents’ ability to access their land. went up a hill directly next to the village in the direction of the land which settlers have stolen and therefore farmers aren’t able to use their land anymore. The aim of the demonstration was to arrange a public prayer on exactly those fields.

When the march came near the settlers’ outpost there was only one soldier who immediately started shooting into the air when he saw the demonstrators. Then several armed settlers and few soldiers started to threaten the demonstrators pointing at them with their weapons. The demonstrators by means of a megaphone remained to the settlers and soldiers that this was a non violent demonstration. Even though, settlers became more and more aggressive and kept on pointing at demonstrators. More soldiers arrived to the scenery and ordered the demonstrators to leave offering violence.

The Palestinians insisted on their right to be at this place but realizing the degree of violence from the settlers they decided at least to celebrate their prayer as scheduled. When they started Settlers started to shoot life ammunition in the air and soldiers tried to disperse the demonstration with tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets. The demonstrators shortly scattered but gathered again. Now settlers and soldiers became more violent. Settlers ran down the hill towards the demonstrators screaming, unloading their guns and aiming at the people in a range of only some centimeters. The soldiers were not really able or willing to stop them. In contrast they went on throwing teargas and sound grenades. Some shabaab (young teenagers) responded in throwing stones. In the following there where some probabilities but luckily nobody was arrested or badly injured. After Israeli Border police and police arrived the leaders of the demonstration started some negotiation with them which again and again was interrupted by the violent attacks of the Settlers or sound bombs and tear gas from the soldiers . In total more than 30 members of Israeli armed forces were in the place. Finally the Palestinian leaders achieved the celebration of the prayer some meters further direction village.

Despite the difficulties of the demonstration because of the disproportional means used by the army and the risk caused by the violence of the settlers, the inhabitants left the place in a mood of hope and strength with the intention to keep on demonstrating in that area.

During the demonstration two people were injured. One of them, a journalist from Al Jazeera, was beaten by a settler with his weapon. The other injured person was a Palestinian who was hit by a tear gas canister in his stomach. He needed medical assistance and a bandage.