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Bushfires ravage Iraq Burin amidst weekly demonstration

International Solidarity Movement

23 May 2010

The northern West Bank village of Iraq Burin demonstrated against the Israeli annexation of their farmlands today, resulting in the injury of one local protester by a tear gas projectile. Tear gas canisters landing on dry grass sparked bushfires in the hot climate, causing further damage to the contested farmland that villagers struggle to reach.

Local and international activists marched through the valley to the mountain adjacent to Iraq Burin village where, facing a force of 20 Israeli soldiers they sung chants of protest in assertion of their right to access their land. Soldiers waited almost no time before firing tear gas at demonstrators, hitting 17-year old Fahed Qaddous in the arm and causing considerable loss of blood. Qaddous was helped back to the village by protesters, where he was transported to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus by ambulance.

Demonstrators stood their ground on the rocky terrain as soldiers continued to fire volleys of gas, the canisters’ heat setting the grass alight. As strong winds carried the fire across the field, activists were forced to halt the demonstration in order to prevent the blaze from spreading to the olive groves. Without access to water on the mountain, demonstrators’ only option was to tear thick branches from the very olive trees they sought to protect in order to beat the fires out.

Despite the damage caused to village lands by IOF aggression protesters returned to the village in high spirits, the weekly demonstration marking the all too rare occasion that villagers can maintain some contact with their land.

It was last year that the people of Iraq Burin began gathering to defend their village each Saturday due to the violent attacks instigated by settlers of Bracha each week, during the Jewish holiday of Shabbat. Now, with the village’s pro-active – and non-violent – resistance to the aggression, no settlers have been sighted on the land of Iraq Burin for over five Saturdays now. The result is clear evidence of popular resistance in action, and what successes it can achieve in Palestinian communities living under occupation.