28 December 2009
When I arrived in Bir el-Eid on 15 November 2009, it was obvious that international accompaniment was needed. There was daily harassment from soldiers and settlers. The villagers were not allowed to use the road. They were officially restricted by the army (DCO) to 20 dunums of land around the village.
With support from internationals living in the village (usually two), and daily visits by Israeli activists, plus legal support from Rabbis for Human Rights, and larger groups of Israeli activists coming to the village on Saturdays (and sometimes other days as well), the villagers engaged in nonviolent resistance by not accepting the restrictions the Israeli military had put upon them.
The villagers grazed their sheep far from the village. They continued to use the road in spite of continual harassment from soldiers and settlers. They installed water tanks where they were forbidden. Gradually the military backed down and eventually agreed to villagers using the road. The military agreed to grazing far from the village (there needs to be more pushing of these boundaries). Recent settler harassment has been token, like stopping village tractors for 15 minutes. We can celebrate the victories the villagers have won.