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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2009 arrow June 12, 2009

June 12, 2009
June 12, 2009: Getting Gassed in Bil'in

Update: September 22, 2009: Yesterday, Today and Back to Bil'in  Read more...


[Bil'in, West Bank, June 12, 2009] Today, I made my fourth visit to Bil'in and was among the many who were tear gassed but who did not seek medical attention after Israeli forces attacked the NONVIOLENT demonstrators who have now joined the ranks of thousands who have been struggling against the ROUTE of The Wall for the last 4 1/2 years in the agricultural village of Bil'in.

I experienced intense burning and stinging in my eyes and throat, nausea and vertigo which lasted for over an hour.

The message from the indigenous people of Bilin is the request to President Obama: Come and have a look at 42 years of military occupation.


In an email from Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the local committee to resist the Wall and settlements: Two injured at the Bil'in weekly protest on Friday June 12, 2009:

Two protesters were injured and dozens suffered from gas inhalation when Israeli troops attack the weekly protest in Bil'in village near the central West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday midday.

Residents of Bil'in and their international and Israelis supporters marched from the village center after the Friday midday prayers.

They were joined by 40 members of the American group "Code Pink Women for Peace".

The protesters demanded the halt of the Israeli illegal settlements and the construction of the wall.

As the protesters arrived at the wall, Israeli troops at the gate nearby fired barrage of sound bombs, tear gas and rubber-coated bullets from the Israeli soldiers.

Two protesters were lightly injured, Mustafa Al Khateeb, 17, and a Britsh activist. Meanwhile scores were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation.[end of email]


On January 5, 2006 I wrote:

My last day in the West Bank I traveled the potholed unpaved road to Billin, a village near Ramallah where villagers and Internationals have been nonviolently and creatively resisting The Wall, The Occupation and the fact that more than half of their land has been illegally annexed by the Israeli government.

In Billin, the Green Line is five miles from the electric fence being erected with sensors and cameras upon Palestinian land. The fence runs out a few yards from our van and we easily make our way over the rocky land to the Billin outpost.

The indigenous peoples began nonviolently resisting The Wall/Fence over one year ago. Thus far, 300 nonviolently resisting locals have been injured by the IDF more than three times and return for more.

Two weeks ago Internationals, Israeli's and locals implemented a creative challenge to the status quo imposed by the Israel government and the times they have a' changed: the Bil'iners have erected their own outpost.

International, Israelis and the oppressed indigenous people of Bi'lin, constructed a 10x10 brick edifice just yards from where the illegal settlement of 700 upscale apartments are being built for Israelis only.

The indigenous people of Bil'in brought their case against the colonists to the Municipal Court and that Court agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was illegal and ordered construction to cease. The case is now pending the Supreme Court decision.

About a half dozen USA made Caterpillar tractors were moving earth for the anticipated paved road that only Jewish colonists- most of them from the USA-will be allowed to travel upon.

Eyad, landowner and leader of The Popular Committee in Billin explained, "A few weeks ago we brought in a caravan [trailer] on our land close to where the settlers apartments are being built. While we were inside the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] sawed the door open and pulled us out and roughed us up.

"So, we brought in another caravan and during the night we built a concrete brick building within four hours. All day and all night people stay here to resist the wall and occupation. People come and go; they are from all over the world. They support our nonviolently resisting the wall that is clearly stealing our land. This electric wall and the IDF are not allowing us onto our land to care for our olive trees. They confiscated our land and impose military law upon us and claim we are trespassing on our legally owned land."

Abdullah, Coordinator of Against The Wall in Billin informed me that there are 1,600 people who call home Billin and legally own 4,000 dunums of property. The Israeli government confiscated 2,003 dunums of agricultural land and is building apartments that Palestinians are forbidden to approach. The Israeli government continues the building of the illegal electric fence that prevents the indigenous land owners from accessing what is legally theirs.

During my visit I spoke with a few of two dozen Israelis and Internationals who were hanging around the brick house. Some stay for days and others sleep inside sleeping bags on the dirt floor of the cramped shelter for weeks at a time.

Soft spoken and intense twenty year old Suneela from New York stated boldly, "We are fighting an important struggle. If America would only learn the truth about what is happening here, they would stop their blind support of the Israeli government that denies people basic human rights."

Twenty year old Israeli born Yuval who has actively resisted the injustice in Bil'in for the past five months added, "This cause is very important to me because this is the only way to struggle. This is our only chance to bring back the popular Intifada: a chance for women and children to nonviolently resist the wall and occupation."

Elizabeth a pretty twenty year old from Indiana studying Middle East Foreign Policy in Jerusalem has lived every weekend at the outpost in Bil'in since its birth.

Forty year old Ratebaburabeme, a member of the Popular Committee, Stop The Wall Campaign, a delegate with Seeds of Peace in 2003, who teaches Social Work and Psychology at El Quds Open University, told me that he was shot and jailed for two weeks because of his nonviolent resistant activities, "The Judge said he would investigate the soldier who shot me, but the soldier lied and denied he shot and the matter was quickly forgotten by the Israelis.

"Three weeks ago we could not come in here, but when the court admitted the settlement buildings were illegal we put the caravan on the property and when the IDF destroyed that, we built this room. Ever since, more and more Israelis, Lawyers, Sheiks, women and children come and stand with us in solidarity for human rights. Rachel Corrie's family has been here too."


The outpost was demolished long ago and Israeli forces have injured over 1,300 and killed one [20 total in the West Bank] in Bil'in; yet the struggle persists and will until The Wall is off of Palestinian property and The Occupation ends.



Update: September 22, 2009: Yesterday, Today and Back to Bil'in  Read more...

   
 
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