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Bil’in demonstrates in solidarity with indicted MK Baraka

Bil’in Popular Committee

13 November 2009

Directly after the Friday prayers, Bil’in citizens gathered in a large demonstration, in response to a call from the Poplar Committee Against the Wall. They were joined by international and Israeli activists, as well as a group of members and supporters of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash) and a delegation of members of the Palestinian People’s Party. The protest was led by Mohammed Baraka – the front’s general secretary and member of the Israeli Knesset. One international activist was injured and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation at the weekly demonstration in Bil’in.

The demonstrators have raised dozens of Palestinian flags and pictures of the late martyr Abu Ammar, along with banners marking the fifth year of his martyrdom, emphasizing their loyalty to his soul. Other banners expressed solidarity with Mohammed Baraka, who will stand on trial in front of an Israeli court next week as a result of his participation in one of the Bil’in weekly demonstration in 2005. Mr. Baraka expressed his commitment to participating in the popular demonstrations against the Wall, settlements and occupation, and his determination to participate regardless of the decision of the court. In his words, even if the judge ruled to imprison him for his activities connected to defending the Palestinian land and nation, it would be an honor to serve his sentence.

Demonstrators wore t-shirts with a slogan commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – “From Berlin to Bil’in, The Wall Shall Fall” – to emphasize the destruction of the Wall in Bil’in and the whole Palestine was inevitable, similarly to what happened in Berlin 20 years ago. They also chanted slogans against the Wall, showing their determination to continue in their resistance, which has started almost five years ago, until the wall built on their land falls.

After initial speeches by members of the Popular Committee, members of Knesset and activists from Israel and countries from around the whole world, the demonstrators marched towards the Wall. Straight after they reached the Wall, the army declared the area a closed military zone, and, within seconds after the announcement, started shooting tear gas. At the beginning the army was throwing individual tear gas canisters at the crowd, however, after some demonstrators attempted to hang banners and Palestinian flags on the barrier, they started using a machine that shoots around 30 tear gas bombs at a time. Dozens suffered severe tear gas inhalation, including Mohammed Baraka, and one international activist, Kyle (32) from the United States was injured after he was trying to escape from the tear gas. His injury, bleeding from his head, required hospital treatment and a number of stitches.