11 February 2010
Two and a half years after an Israeli Supreme Court decision deeming the path of the Wall on the lands of Bil’in illegal, preliminary infrastructure work to reroute the barrier in accordance with the ruling has finally began. Since the ruling, the state has twice been found in contempt of the court, for not implementing the decision.
Mohammed Khatib, the coordinator of the West Bank-wide Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and a member of the the Bil’in Popular Committee, said today that “The Supreme Court had already ruled this should happen almost three years ago and it should not have taken so long. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the only reason that this is finally happening now are the five years of persistent struggle and the scarifies the people of my village have made. While we are happy for the lands that do return, we do not forget the lands and crops that remain isolated behind the Wall. Our struggle will continue until all of our lands are returned and the Occupation is over.”
Following initial construction of Israel’s wall on Bil’in’s lands in February 2005, residents organized almost daily direct actions and demonstrations against the theft of their lands. Garnering the attention of the international community with their creativity and perseverance, Bil’in has become a symbol for Palestinian popular resistance. Almost five years later, Bil’in continues to hold weekly Friday protests.
In addition to grassroots demonstrations and nonviolent direct actions, Bil’in has held annual conferences on popular resistance since 2006; providing a forum for villagers, activists and academics to discuss strategies for the unarmed struggle against the Occupation.
Realizing the limitations of the appealing to Israeli court and the legal remedies possible to achieve through them, the village of Bil’in commenced legal proceedings before the Superior Court of Quebec In July 2008. The appeal was filed against two Canadian companies, Green Park International Inc. and Green Mount International Inc., for their involvement in constructing, marketing and selling residential units in the Mattityahu East section of Modi’in Illit.
As part of a recent campaign to quash grassroots resistance to the Occupation, 37 residents of Bil’in have been arrested in connection to anti-Wall protest since June last year. Among those arrested are also five members of the village’s Popular Committee, which organizes the demonstrations. They have all been arrested on suspicions of incitement – a blanket charge for organizing demonstrations. Similar arrest campaigns are carried by Israel across the West Bank, targeting grassroots organizers.