With empty pots - how shall we feed our children?
Bil'in protest in the presence of European diplomats.
Israeli activists of Gush Shalom and 'Anarchists Against the Wall arrived
at the village after leaving behind their bus which had brought them from
Haifa and Tel-Aviv and doing the last part by foot and Palestinian taxis. But
upon arrival they found in the village streets a whole series of cars belonging
to the corps diplomatique. 15 European diplomats had come earlier and toured
the "Separation Fence" in the Bil'in environment and they were to stay to
witness the weekly demonstration.
This week's gimmick of the protest march: a child was held aloft inside a
metal bathtub - symbolizing the empty pots of the Bil'iners who lost their
lands, as well as of the Palestinians as a whole to whom the European Union
doesn't want to continue providing.
Another gimmick - a bridge to be put over the fences, a huge construction.
When it was used to actually climb over the first line of fencing it caused
a shock among the present soldiers, and was immediately followed by shooting
and arrests. Apart from three arrested Israelis as well as two internationals
several people were wounded, among them Rachel Avnery who got a concussion
grenade against her leg.
The press release following hereafter tells the story from the perspective
of the diplomatic visit to Bil'in.
Press Release, April 1, 2006
15 European diplomats tour "Separation Fence" at Bil'in Village
Villagers and peace activists: Fence steals land on settlers' behalf
Diplomats witness violent dispersion of protest by army - will report to their
Fifteen European diplomats toured at Friday Noon the Israeli "Separation
Fence" erected on the lands of the West Bank village Bil'in. Among them were
representatives from Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, The Czech
Republic, Poland, Denmark and Sweden.
Originally, army forces at the spot refused to allow the diplomats to cross
the Fence westwards and tour the lands on its other side, ajacent to the
Israeli settlements "Modi'in Illit" and "Mattityahu East". After prolonged
negotiations the commanding officer on the spot agreed to allow a half-hour tour.
Bil'in villagers accompanying the diplomats pointed out areas where olive
trees had been uprooted for erection of the fence, and far wider olive groves
which remain on the other side of the fence, cut off from their owners (to whom
they are often the sole source of livelihood). Former Knesset Member Uri
Avnery, of Gush Shalom (The Israeli Peace Bloc) told the diplomats that the
Fence route was not defined by security considerations but by the desire to
annex lands earmarked for settlement expansion and dispossess their Palestinian
owners. The diplomats said they would report to their governments on all that
they saw and heard.
Subsequently, the fifteen diplomats placed themselves on a nearby hilltop,
from where they observed the course of a protest march held by Bil'in villagers
together with Israeli activists of Gush Shalom and Anarchists Against Walls.
They witnessed the widespread use of force by the army to disperse the
demonstration, including the shooting of salvos of concussion grenades, which
caused burns to several demonstrators, the beating of demonstrators by clubs,
and the detention of three Israeli peace activists, an Australian volunteer and
an Italian journalist - all of whom were dragged into waiting police cars and
"The army charged the detainees with 'assaulting soldiers', but these
reliable international witnesses know the truth. They saw with their own eyes that
the army assaulted a peaceful, non-violent protest march. The only crime of
the Bil'in villagers is their unwillingness to accept the theft of their land
for the purpose of settlement extension. It seems that that the new
government, to be created following this week's elections, intends to continue the
erection of fences and walls and the theft of Palestinian land. Therefore, we too
will continue the struggle against this criminal policy which foments hatred
and threatens our future" say the Israeli organizers.
Uri Avnery +972-505-306440
Adar Grayevsky +972-525-444866
Adam Keller +972-3-5565804, +972-506-709603
61033 p.o.b. 3322 Tel Aviv GUSH SHALOM
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