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June 7, 2008
WAWA Blog June 7, 2008: Tear Gas And Bullets In Bil'in VS International Nonviolent Solidarity UPDATE 8:30 PM VIDEO LINK and eye witness report with 4:30 PM EST PRESS RELEASE @ end

 


VIDEO:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23ul33taRtY

[Bil'in, West Bank] On June 6, 2008, Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Maried Corrigan-Maguire were assaulted by Israeli Forces with tear gas during the weekly Friday afternoon nonviolent protest against the wall and military occupation in Bil'in. Julio Toscano, an Italian judge, suffered head wounds when he was hit by one of the tear-gas grenades. The incidents came on the last day of Bil'in's third annual international conference supporting nonviolent protests against the wall and military occupation of the West Bank agricultural village.



"Around midday, the participants of the conference went to watch a football match between the villagers of Bil’in and the international participants of the conference near the wall. The football game, which coincided with the start of the European Championship tournament, was, according to Abdullah Abu Rahme, the conference moderator, a message to the world that Israel, also denies the Palestinians the right to play. Soon after the match started, Israeli troops showered the players with a number of tear gas bombs which forced them to stop the match. A number of the players and the spectators were treated for gas inhalation."[1]


According to protestors, dozens of the hundreds of demonstrators on hand were hurt by tear gas, while several were hit by gas canisters. Former Palestinian National Security Advisor Jibril Rajoub and Palestinian Legislative Council Member Dr. Mustafa al-Barghouti were also hurt by tear gas. Regarding Morgantini's condition, the army said that "those who take part in such protests and violate a closed military zone order should not be surprised to see the IDF respond with tear gas."[2]

Israeli Anarchist Against the Wall and a protest organizer, Yonatan Pollak said that the army fired a "dazzling amount" of gas canisters, "about 30-40 per barrage."[IBID]


At the conclusion of the second annual Bil'in conference, on April 21st, 2007, Mairead Maguire, was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Forces an hour after a press conference where she stated:

"Thanks to the media here for telling the truth…Bring this truth to whatever country you come from. Non-violence will solve the problems here in Israel and Palestine. Often, the world sees only violence. But Palestinians are a good people, working towards non-violence. This Wall must fall! It is an insult to the human family and to the world– that we are building Apartheid Walls in the 21st Century! More than forty years of Occupation and Land Appropriation."


Since 2004, in Bil'in, every Friday afternoon after prayers at the mosque, unarmed Palestinian farmers, workers, mothers, students, together with Israeli and International volunteers, have been braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death from the well equipped Israeli army, with nothing more than their bodies.

In 2007, after Maried Maquire was shot and while being carried to safety, the army continued to fire into the non-violent crowd. "The resilience was astounding. The demonstrators kept regrouping. Even Ms. Maguire, after being shot and with red, watery tear-gassed eyes– she rejoined the march.…An estimated 25 people were either hit with rubber bullets, soldier batons, or received medical care from tear gas inhalation." [4]

Máiread once wrote: "Hope for the future depends on each of us taking nonviolence into our hearts and minds and developing new and imaginative structures which are nonviolent and life-giving for all. Some people will argue that this is too idealistic. I believe it is very realistic. I am convinced that humanity is fast evolving to this higher consciousness. For those who say it cannot be done, let us remember that humanity learned to abolish slavery. Our task now is no less than the abolition of violence and war.... We can rejoice and celebrate today because we are living in a miraculous time. Everything is changing and everything is possible.

"While Governments can make a difference, in the final analysis it is the individual – that is each one of us – that will bring the dream of a nonviolent world to reality. We, the people must think and act nonviolently. We must not get stuck in the past as to do so will destroy the imagination and creativity which is so n a new future together…

"To change our world we need a spiritual and a political evolution. The political steps are often very obvious: uphold Human rights, and International Laws, demand our Governments meet their obligations under these Laws, support and reform United Nations, etc., However, all the legislation, resolutions, and fine talk will be of no use, if we do not as men and women evolve and become transformed, so that we, the human family, achieve a more enlightened and humane way of living together, and solving conflicts." [5]

 

 In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that The Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy to make way for further Israeli illegal settlements.

Bil'in is one of many villages in the occupied Palestinian territories where locals, Israelis and Internationals have been nonviolently and creatively resisting "The Wall" which in Bil'in is an electrified fence and miles of rolled barbed wire. The electric fence and the Israeli army prevents the indigenous people to care and harvest their olive groves. 2,003 dunums of land have already been confiscated for The Wall/Fence and over 750 settler's apartments have been built on the indigenous people's land.

In Bil'in, the Green Line is five miles from The Wall/electric fence and the Popular Committee in Bil'in has been nonviolently fighting the illegal actions of the Israeli government with nonviolent demonstrations and legal actions. At least three court cases have been filed regarding the route of The Wall, the illegal settlements and land ownership. The Israeli government uses the Ottoman Law that states if the landowner doesn't tend his land it can be confiscated by the State. The Israeli army and the electrified fence have effectively prevented the indigenous people from accessing and caring for their olive tree crop, depriving them of food and income.

The indigenous people of Bil'in brought their case to the Israeli Municipal Court and the High Court. Both courts agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was indeed illegal and ordered the construction to cease in January 2006. Construction continued and now that the settlers have moved in, the High Court has chosen to accept these "facts on the ground" and the colonists have been allowed to remain and the indigenous people have not received any compensation.

During one of my three visits to Bil'in since January 2006, Abdullah and Mohammod, the local Coordinator's of The Popular Committee Against The Wall in Bil'in informed me that 1,700 people live there and legally own 4,000 dunums of property. By erecting The Wall on Palestinian land, the Israeli government has effectively confiscated 2,003 dunums of prime agricultural land.

Beginning in 2004, every Friday afternoon in Bil'in after prayer at the mosque the ritual is for locals, Israelis and Internationals to march in solidarity to The Wall/Electric Fence while singing and chanting in Arabic slogans such as: "The wall will fall in Bil'in; the wall will fall like in Berlin!"

On my last trip to Bil'in in March 2007, I was one of over 40 internationals from the UK, France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Netherlands and the US who joined dozens of Israelis and over 300 locals on a nonviolent protest march down the dirt road to The Wall/Electric Fence. Soldiers hid behind trees to the right and to the left of us while over five dozen Israeli forces stood on the other side of The Wall/Fence and one videotaped us.

After chanting a while in front of the soldiers, Israeli activist, Yonatan PollaK, was the first down the steep rocky hill. He jumped over a metal railing to grab the roll of razor sharp barbed wire that is in front of the electrified fence, in order to shake it. He was immediately joined by dozens of locals and activists who were swiftly greeted by the first of hundreds of sound bombs.

I was half way down the hill when a teenager next to me threw a rock at a soldier and I knew that action alone can get one killed or arrested, so I headed back up the hill just before the tear gas assaulted the crowd at the barbwire. By the time I made it up the hill the first of hundreds of rubber bullets were being shot into the crowd. Only two internationals were hit that day.


1.
http://www.bilin-village.org/english/
2.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3552745,00.html
3. IBID
 
4. http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2007/04/21/april-20-bilin-protest/
5. http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.
php?option=com_content&task=view&id=128&Itemid=105



Learn More:
http://www.bilin-village.org/english/



Statement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Leader of the High Level Fact-Finding Mission
into events at Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006
 
Press Conference, Gaza, 29 May 2008
 
We were appointed by the Human Rights Council as a fact-finding mission to investigate the
attack on November 8 2006 in Beit Hanoun which left 19 people dead. We have a three point mandate: the assessment of the situation of victims, addressing the needs of survivors and to make recommendations on ways and means to protect Palestinian civilians against any further Israeli assaults. The mission returns to Geneva tomorrow and we will be reporting to the Human Rights Council at its session in September, so these are impressions on our part for it is to the Council first that we are obliged to present our report.
 
We have tried three times in 18 months to secure the cooperation of the Israeli Government to no avail, and in the end we were forced to come to Gaza through Egypt.
 
We want to begin by thanking the Government of Egypt for their facilitation of our mission. We also want to thank all of the United Nations personnel for their logistical support. We want to say thank you also to the UN in Egypt and to the Secretariat of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their efficient and friendly help, as well as to the interpreters who have assisted us. We want to thank all the people we have met here in Gaza, members of NGOs, but especially the survivors and victims of the attack itself. I also want to express my deep appreciation to Professor Christine Chinkin, my co-expert on this mission.
 
All we had heard about the conditions in Gaza - the deprivation, the sense of despair, the lack of economic activity - had not prepared us for the stark reality we saw. We saw a forlorn, deserted, desolate and eerie place. Hardly any pedestrians as would be the case in a more normal setting. We were struck particularly by the absence of the sounds of children shrieking and playing. Usually, when there is a convoy in a normal situation, children will rush out to wave, to be funny and to laugh. We saw none of this. There was no hustle and bustle as in a normal urban setting. There are hardly any vehicles on the road because of the scarcity of fuel. We saw more donkey and horse-drawn carts.
 
We are in a state of shock, exacerbated by what we subsequently heard from the victims and survivors of the Beit Hanoun massacre. For us, the entire situation is abominable. We believe that ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade, this siege if they knew what it meant for ordinary people like themselves. No, they would not support a policy which limits fuel supplies or automatically cuts off the electricity supply. They would not support a policy which jeopardizes the lives of ordinary men and women in hospital, that cuts off water and food from hospitals jeopardizing the lives of babies. No, they would not support a policy that results in what happened in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006, when a mother scooped up the brains of her baby lying with its skull cracked open by an Israeli shell, the same mother rushing out into the street to find her son staring at his bowels hanging out and then seeing him scoop them up and shove them back into his abdomen. No, they would not.
 
As a matter of principle, Profesor Chinkin and I wanted to go to Israel to hear directly from the Israeli authorities their version of the events. We wanted to meet any other interested parties and NGOs. But we also wanted to go to Sderot to meet with victims and survivors of the Qassam rockets. We care about all people. That is why we told Mr Haniyeh that the firing of those rockets is a gross violation of human rights, and asked for them to stop the firing.
 
We are the descendents of Abraham: Jews, Christians and Muslims. We revere the teaching of scripture. And so we call on Israel to end the siege, the blockade.
 
Why?
 
First, because it is a gross violation of human rights. In terms of the scripture that Jews and
Christians alike invoke, the blockade is contrary to the teaching of those scriptures. Those
scriptures speak about a God: a God of the Exodus, a God notoriously biased in favour of the weak, of the oppressed, of the suffering, of the orphan, of the widow, of the alien. And this God will not be mocked! The God who sided with the slaves against the Pharaoh, the God who sided with Naboth against King Ahab, who sided with Bathsheba's husband against King David. The God who came down to deliver the Israelites from their bondage, who was not deaf to their cries, not blind to their plight, who knew their suffering, is the same yesterday, today and forever!
 
The siege is contrary to the Jewish tradition of siding with the oppressed. In South Africa, the most outstanding stalwarts in our fight against apartheid were often Jews. People like Helen Suzman, people like Joe Slovo. Almost instinctively, Jews must be on the side of freedom, justice and peace.
 
The siege must stop because it is not in the interests of Israelis. There can be no justice, no peace, no stability, not for Israel, not for the Palestinians, without accountability for human rights violations. This includes accountability for the human rights violations which occured in Beit Hanoun on 8 November 2006. Israel has admitted that it made a mistake, but this falls far short of accountability and due redress for victims and their families. Accountability applies also to those firing rockets into civilian areas of Israel. The culture of impunity on both sides must end!

True security and peace will not come from the barrel of a gun. It will come through negotiation: negotiation not with your friends. Peace can come only when enemies sit down and talk. It happened in South Africa. It happened more recently in Northern Ireland. It will happen here too. Please, please, Israelis and Palestinians: for the sake of your children, for the sake of your future, for your sake , for God's sake, for all our sakes. Please, please end the injustice and sit down and talk to one another. It is possible for Israelis and Palestinians to live amicably side by side in two sovereign, viable states.
 
There can be no peace, there can be no security, there can be no freedom in isolation. Israelis and Palestinians will be free, will be secure, will prosper only together.
 
My message to the international community is that our silence and complicity - especially on the situation in Gaza - shames us all. It is almost like the behaviour of the military junta in Burma. Gaza needs the engagement of the outside world, especially of its peacemakers.
 
Finally, to you our brothers and sisters in Gaza: you will be free. Your isolation and loneliness will end. We want you to know that we are with you, and we will come back to celebrate with you your freedom!

Friends of Sabeel--North America
www.fosna.org



UPDATE: Press Release

Italian Judge Injured By Israeli Army In Peaceful Demonstration Against The Wall, In Bil’in

Posted: 07 Jun 2008 11:55 AM CDT

PRESS RELEASE

BY

LUISA MORGANTINI

Vice President of the European Parliament

(GUE/NGL)

ITALIAN JUDGE INJURED BY ISRAELI ARMY IN PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE WALL, IN BIL’IN (WEST BANK)

Bil’in, (West Bank) 6th June 2008

A demonstration against the wall in Bil’in, a Palestinian village close to Ramallah, just concluded the Third Annual Conference (2nd-4th June) organized by the Bil’in Popular Committee for non-violent resistance with the participation of the Vice President of the European Parliament Luisa Morgantini and of the Peace Nobel Prize, Maired Corrigan Maguire, and also of many Palestinian, Israeli personalities and delegations from France, Belgium, Germany and different European countries; from Italy a delegation of 40 people belonging to Italian Women in Black, many NGOs, the association Aktivamente and representatives from Giuristi Democratici (Italian Democratic Lawyers).

After the end of the meeting, there was near the wall a football match, opened by Luisa Morgantini and Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian FIFA: the match was played by International, Palestinian and Israeli activists together, but interrupted by teargas fired by the Israeli army.

At one thirty p.m. started the weekly Friday non-violent protest against the wall, which in Bil’in confiscated more then 60% of the villagers’ land: although the demonstrators marched until the gate of the construction site of the wall peacefully and without forcing it, the Israeli soldiers immediately intervened firing a big quantity of teargas at man-height and injuring some demonstrators among those a judge from Sicily, Giulio Toscano, belonging to the Italian Democratic Lawyers’ delegation (Giuristi Democratici) . Luisa Morgantini with crying eyes and burning the throat and the lungs for the gas inhaled, declared her “commitment to the popular and non violent struggle in Bil’in like in all the villages where the wall is steeling lands and its sources for the life of Palestinian people through an Israeli policy of colonization and military occupation which kills peace and justice”. Also the Peace Nobel Prize, Maired Corrigan Maguire was intoxicated by the teargas.

Since three years up to now, Bil’in and the persistence of its inhabitants and of all the Palestinian, Israeli and International Peace activists represent an extraordinary example of non-violent resistance against the wall and the confiscation of Palestinian lands, resulting from 40 years of Israeli military occupation.

Further Info Luisa Morgantini 00972 54 72 71 742 or Office in Rome 0039 06 69 95 02 17

Luisa.morgantini@ europarl. europa.eu; http://www.luisamorgantini .net



The Third Annual Bilin Conference on Peaceful Popular Resistance ended today with a protest at the Apartheid Wall.

The final day of the conference was concluded with a protest against the wall in Bilin. The protest began from the center of the town where the conference was located with a majority of those attending the conference also participating in the protest. Among the participants were Israeli Peace Activists, members of the Palestinian Parliament, including Qais Abu Laila, Moheeb Awad, Walid Asaf, and Mustafa Barghouti.

After reaching the entrance of the wall, Mohamed Nazal began reading the Committee’s final statement regarding the Third Annual Bilin Conference.  As Nazal was reading, the Israeli Occupation Forces began firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the protestors. 

Dozens were treated for tear gas inhalation including the Deputy Speaker of the EU Parliament Luisa Morgantini , Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire, as well as Italian Judge  Julio Tuscani who sustained head injuries caused when the  Israeli troops began firing tear gas canisters directly into the crowd of peaceful protestors.   Tuscani was taken to Shiek Zayed Hospital in Ramallah.  Other injuries included Abdula Abu Rahman, coordinator of the Popular Committee, as well as Bilin resident Nizar Abu Rahma.

The 3 day conference was attended by Palestinians as well as Internationals and Israeli peace activists.  This included a representative for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Prime Minister Salim Fayad, various Palestinian Parliamentary representatives, as well as leaders of Fatah and the various Palestinian political parties.  Peace Activists from around the world were present including France, Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, the USA,  and Holland.  As well as Israeli peace activists opposed to the ongoing occupation.

The conference states as one of its goal the unification of the Palestinian people, which is essential to any successful Palestinian struggle.  The conference stated that unity will enable Palestinians to more effectively apply pressure on Israel for the implementation of the July 9th 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice, United Nations resolutions which have largely been ignored, and take a firm stand regarding the Israeli defacto annexation of Jerusalem, the apartheid wall, and the continuing enlargement of settlements.

The conference also asks the Palestinian people to boycott all Israeli goods and channel all its efforts in the struggle against the occupation towards Peaceful Popular resistance that has been proven to be the most strategic and successful in opposition to the Apartheid Wall.  A Peaceful resistance that has its roots in the Palestinian struggle as exemplified in the first intifada.

The conference also stressed the need to strengthen and expand existing ties with Israelis who have participated in protesting and opposing the occupation.  In addition the conference asked the Palestinian people to reject any cooperation with the Israeli occupation, its institutions, and all individuals that are a part of and perpetuate the occupation.   Strengthening and expanding the relationship between Palestinian’s and their international supporters was also recommended with the goal of increasing recruitment of international activists that will support Palestinian Peaceful Popular resistance.   In addition the conference stressed the need for Arab and Palestinian Foreign nationals to forge ties and coordinate with International activists in support of the Palestinian cause.

The conference also stresses the importance that all international supporters, associations, and world civil society not only take up the important task of reporting back the reality of the Palestinian situation in face of pro-Israeli propaganda and distortion but also pressure their governments and businesses to disinvest in Israel and propose economic sanctions in light of the continuing illegal occupation.  In particular European supporters are being asked to pressure their EU leaders to stop the proposed upgrade in their relationship with Israel in light of their violations of international law.

In addition supporters are asked to formally appeal to their governments, specifically the European countries, the European Union, and the United States to reconsider their relationship with Israel until it complies with all international laws, the Geneva Convention, and gives Palestinians their rights enshrined within the aforementioned.

The conference ended with a discussion on the experience and success of the Bilin Peaceful resistance and a poem was read by Besman Yaseen about the Palestinian people and the deep unbreakable ties they have with their land.

Next the assistant for the attorney who represents Bilin spoke about the details of the ongoing legal battle that has taken place in parallel with the Friday peaceful protests.

Next President of the popular committee against the wall and President of Friends of Freedom and Justice in Bilin, Iyad Bornat, spoke regarding the conditions that prompted the Bilin Experience,  the strategies that made the experience a success, the violent reaction of the Israeli troops to peaceful protests, and finally the results of the Bilin Experience. .

After all the speakers finished all participants in the conference went to watch a soccer match between the Internationals and the local Palestinians.  The match took place in an area close to the apartheid wall and was kicked off by Jibril Irjoob the president of the Palestinian Futbal league and Luisa Morgantini the Deputy Speaker of the European Parliament.  The match was played as a symbolic gesture that coincided with the beginning of the European cup.  The players were sending a message to the world that Palestinians are barred from playing and attending in these events because of the continuing confiscation of land and inability to access any stadiums.

Minutes after the beginning of the match the Israeli Occupation Forces shot tear gas into the makeshift football field and the players were unable to continue playing as they suffered from the effects of the tear gas, thus prematurely ending the symbolic event.

  On the second day of the conference the participants where split into 4 groups and taken to see different villages in the West Bank that have been affected by the continued Israeli occupation, settlement expansion, and the Apartheid Wall.  The first group went to Jerusalem, the second to Hebron and Bethlehem, the third to the Jordan Valley, and the fourth to Tul Karem, Qalqilya, and Salfit.  After their return they went to an event in support of the release of Marwan Barghuti and all the Palestinian Prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Please visit our new website for regular updates.

www.bilin-ffj.org

Watch video of the 3rd annual Bilin conference.

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKcSnysC0O8


Thank you for yours support,

Friends of Freedom and Justice in Bilin
   
 
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