International Solidarity Movement
25 April 2010
Palestinian men, women and children, along with international activists met with severe military repression on Saturday, April 24 as the village of Iraq Burin staged another successful demonstration against the Israeli occupation of their lands.
Local and international activists gathered under the heat of another beaming midday sun at the southern outskirts of the village, warming up for what has become weekly tradition. Some 80 demonstrators, lead by a shabb (youth) on a magnificent steed, began the march along the steep path to the summit of Iraq Burin’s southern peak toward the fence demarcating the edge of Iraq Burin’s contested farmland, adjacent to the illegal settlement of Bracha.
A force of two dozen Israeli soldiers, having occupied the hill’s summit, blocked the demonstrators’ progress. With flags, raised fists & megaphones as their weapons, protesters established their ground 50 metres from armed Israeli occupation forces, defiantly – yet peacefully – asserting their right to access their land. Lyrical chants rung out from those assembled, of Iraq Burin’s two martyrs Mohammad and Ussayed Qaddous (killed on March 20 by soldiers firing live ammunition during the weekly demonstration) and Palestine’s capital of Al-Quds, 75 km from Iraq Burin, but largely unvisited by 1000 green ID-holding residents of the village. Activists felt a further surge of pride as women from the village appeared within their midst, chanting alongside Iraq Burin’s men and flashing the peace sign at soldiers.
It didn’t take long for Israeli occupation forces, spread out across the hill’s summit, to open fire on the crowd. As the first volleys of sound bombs and tear gas were let loose on the peaceful demonstration chaos broke loose, gas canisters landing left, right and centre as protesters attempted to escape the fumes whilst holding their ground against advancing Israeli occupation forces. Soldiers became increasingly aggressive, firing gas directly at activists, which came pounding through the air and clearing heads by mere centimeters.
Despite the military’s use of brute force, the village displayed bravery and resilience in the face of violence, continuing to chant rhymes of protest and hold Palestinian flags aloft, resplendent in black, green, red and white through the plumes of smoke. After approximately one hour the village called an end to the demonstration, declaring it another success, with no injuries, no arrests and a clear message sent to the occupation forces – “this is our land, and we will return here each week to remind you of it.”
The village of Iraq Burin began non-violently protesting the expansion of Israeli settlement Bracha in August 2009, in response to a sharp increase in provocative, and often violent attacks initiated by residents of the settlement. These attacks are frequently aided and abetted by the Israeli military, who in turn invade the village, firing rounds of tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition upon Palestinian civilians