by Sophie Van Dijk
2 March 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank
Today we went to Bil’in, a small village 17 km from Ramallah. For decades it has been harassed by the Israeli army. When the Apartheid Wall was constructed, it separated the farmers from their land.
Seven years ago, the villagers succeeded in moving the wall a bit towards the settlements again and gained back a few meters of the land where their great grandparents already lived.
Every Friday after that, there where demonstrations organized. For my friend and I, this was our first demonstration in the West Bank.
Luckily we had a bit of an idea about what to expect because the others told us about the situation.
When we arrived in Bil’in we gathered together with the villagers and went together to the place where the demonstration was held. One of the villagers we met there had been already arrested 3 times. Still that doesn’t stop him for going on with fighting for his land and his people.
We drove through the valley, it was all so beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed, and the people loving. I almost forgot that the country is occupied, until we arrived at the Wall, with barbed wire fence to protect it.
Soldiers stood behind it with their “toys,” at least that’s the way it looked.
It all started off really quiet. There was some yelling, some hanging around at the wall but nothing more then that.
The soldiers came and were looking at us from the other side of the wall at what we were doing. A few of the Palestinian boys started throwing rocks, which obviously was purely symbolic. The soldiers were far away and wore protection.
Some of the boys tried to get through the wire to the wall. A few managed to do that and started laughing and slapt the wall a bit. It was still a very friendly protest.
My friend, Mira, and I were taking videos and pictures. At some point the soldiers started shooting teargas directed at us, who were filming. Thick clouds of smoke were surrounding us within seconds. It smelled like fire works, but more sour and very sharp. I couldn’t see anything and breathing was really difficult. My cheeks and nose were burning.
After a few minutes I was fine again. Luckily Mira was able to avoid it a bit more than I did.
After this action from the military, we pulled back and stayed a bit away. After a while we went to the group again. For half an hour the situation was again like before. Hanging out, boys throwing rocks again, and I even heard one of the boys communicating with one of the soldiers.
The short conversation ended in laughter of the soldier and a few minutes after that there came a lot of teargas again, even more than before. This time it was Mira who suffered more from the gas.
When the action ended I heard that they did shoot rubber coated steel bullets at the boys, “But probably it was meant as a warning to not 0come too close to the wall,” another protester said
Even though the whole action looks like a ritual almost, it makes me more angry than I was before. Taking away the land, using weapons towards people, children even, who have absolutely nothing. The soldiers themselves are even kids, like 17 -18 years old. Just boys fighting an old man ‘s war filled with hate already from since they were born.
How crazy is that? By far, i haven’t seen the worst yet..
We will see what the future brings Free Palestine!
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