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Dozens suffered tear gas inhalation at Friday demonstration in Bil’in

Bil’in Popular Committee

23 October 2009

Several demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation from canisters thrown at them by the Israeli occupation soldiers in their attempt to suppress the weekly protest of Bil’in citizens and solidarity groups.

The demonstration was called by the Popular Committee Against the Wall and started directly after the Friday prayers. Bil’in citizens were joined by a group of international and Israeli peace activists and together they raised Palestinian flags and banners condemning the occupation, racist policy of building the Wall and settlements, land confiscation, road closures and detention and killing of innocent people.

The Shministim (Hebrew for high school seniors), an Israeli group of activists who are refusing military service, participated in the demonstration. One of the Shministim, Emelia (18) from Tel Aviv, said: ”I came to support the people of Bil’in in their struggle against the violence they continue to face from the Israeli soldiers. I don’t want to be a part of an army that is using violence against people who, in a peaceful way, protest the theft of their land for the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall. I prefer to be in jail than to be a part of the army.”

In addition, an active organisation of retired Palestinians participated in the demonstration, to express their solidarity with people of Bil’in. They took this occasion to announce a festival they are organizing next Sunday at 3pm in Bil’in in order to support the local resistance in the face of the occupation. They have invited Palestinian actors and celebrities to take part in the festival.

Demonstrators marched through the streets of Bil’in, chanting national songs, condemning the occupation. When they approached a gate at the western side of the Wall, the protestors attempted to enter their land that was annexed by the Wall. The Israeli soldiers closed the gate and prevented the demonstrators from entering, throwing tear gas on them and causing tens of participants suffering from tear gas inhalation.

Earlier this week, a delegation from “Follow the Women” visited Bil’in and heard from the Popular Committee about the experience of the village with the struggle against the construction of the Wall and settlements and about the suffering of Bil’in citizens caused by the Wall. The delegation cycled to the Wall in Bil’in in solidarity with the Friday demonstrations. They were a part of a tour to Palestine, which included visiting refugees camps, villages and cities, places with active local resistance and conflict points with the Israeli occupation. The delegation also visited Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The aim of this ride was to promote peace in region and ending of the occupation of the Palestinian territories, as the delegation coordinator, Dita Reagan stated.