16 October 2009
After the Friday prayer, the residents of Bil’in gathered in a protest along with Israeli and international solidarity activists. A group from France came to support the Palestinian people and another group from Norway joined the demonstration in solidarity with the village in their struggle against the Wall and settlement building. The protesters raised Palestinian flags and banners to allow Palestinian farmers to pick olives from their land. The protest called for Israel to remove the illegal Wall and settlements, dismantle checkpoints and road blocks, to stop land confiscations and attacks on Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, and to release all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees.
In a symbolic action, the protesters carried a big model of scales. Scales are used in courts around the whole world as a symbol of justice, however in today’s protest they were slightly different from the usual ones – they had Israel on one side and the world on the other. Israel was heavier than the rest of the world, to emphasize Israel’s policy of not abiding with international resolutions. The protesters in Bil’in wanted to demonstrate, in a creative way, their struggle for justice, especially following the publication of the Goldstone report and the rejection of their case against the Canadian companies involved in the construction of the settlements on their lands by the Canadian courts.
The demonstrators walked through the streets of Bil’in, chanting slogans condemning the occupation, and calling for national unity, as well as stressing the need for popular resistance. Demonstrators carried ladders and other tools they would use to harvest olives. Once they arrived at the gate of the Wall located in the Athaher area, they tried to cross to the land annexed by the Wall to harvest their fruits and olives. At that point, the Israeli soldiers showered them with tear gas grenades, causing injuries to four protesters: one journalist, a French national Marten Bogho and two Palestinians – Abdullah Alrwashda and Jaber Abu Rahmah, while dozens of people suffered teargas inhalation.
The Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in also condemned the Israeli army’s threat to the Palestinian farmers around Nablus to impose a fine of up to 6,000 Israeli shekels ($1,700) for seeking help from foreign volunteers to reach their lands close to the Israeli settlements. The committee considers this as an oppressive measure that allows settlers to exercise their terror over the Palestinian farmers, as when the international volunteers are not present, nobody can reveal the terror attacks committed by the settlers to the world.