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1,000 Mark 5th Anniversary of Bil'in Apartheid Wall Protests (Several Stories)

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo ***** http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1151032.html 20/02/2010 Bil in
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 20 1:06 AM
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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      *****

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1151032.html
      20/02/2010
      Bil'in protesters dismantle section of West Bank barrier
      By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

      Demonstrators participating in rally protesting the Israel's West Bank
      separation fence dismantled a section of the barrier on Friday, during a
      rally marking five years since the beginning of the Bil'in protests.

      About a thousand people took part in the rally, which was also attended
      by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Palestinian parliament
      member Mustafa Barghouti as well as Fatah strongman Nabil Shaath.

      During the rally several protesters managed to cross the barrier,
      placing a Palestinian flag on top of an Israel Defense Forces outpost,
      while others dismantled a 30-meter section of the fence itself.

      IDF sources claimed that the fence's repair could cost several hundred
      thousand NIS.

      Israeli security forces were aligned in rear positions to allow the
      demonstrators to protest in a "non-violent fashion," but began using
      dispersal instruments as soon as protesters commenced hurling stones.

      A source in the IDF's GOC Central Command told Haaretz that the incident
      proved that the IDF was willing to allow non-violent protest, but that
      it was clear that some of the participants act violently, hurling stones
      and causing thousands of sheckels in damages to the fence

      *****

      http://tinyurl.com/yemum7l
      Hundreds mark 5th year of Israel barrier protests
      Hundreds march to mark fifth anniversary of protests against Israel's
      West Bank barrier
      by KARIN LAUB
      AP News
      Feb 19, 2010 14:44 EST

      Hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and foreign activists — engulfed by
      clouds of tear gas fired by Israeli troops — demonstrated Friday to mark
      the fifth anniversary of weekly protests against Israel's West Bank
      separation barrier.

      Friday's demonstrations in the West Bank village of Bilin were also a
      victory celebration of sorts for the protesters, coming days after
      Israel's military began to reroute a barrier segment to restore some of
      the land taken from the village.

      In five years of weekly protests, Bilin has become a symbol of the
      Palestinians' struggle against the encroachment of the barrier on land
      they claim for their state, and the demonstrations have since spread to
      several other villages.

      On Friday, a crowd of hundreds, including Palestinian women in
      headscarves, young Westerners with backpacks, the mayor of Geneva and a
      troupe of clowns dressed in Israeli army fatigues, marched from the
      village center toward the barrier in a valley below.

      A few dozen Palestinian teens at the front of the march began tearing at
      the fence, climbed over it and rushed to the other side. Others threw
      stones.

      In response, Israeli troops fired a barrage of tear gas and
      rubber-coated steel pellets, while a water cannon aimed foul-smelling
      liquid at the crowd. Coughing and pressing tissues against their faces,
      many protesters headed back toward the village. Two people were injured,
      one by a tear gas canister and the other by a rubber bullet,
      participants said.

      Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli army spokeswoman, said troops
      initially stood back Friday, but had to disperse the crowd when
      protesters began damaging the fence.

      Israel says the protests are violent riots, citing the stone throwing
      and injuries suffered by dozens of troops over the years.

      Palestinians allege that Israeli troops often use excessive force,
      dispersing protesters with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and
      occasionally live rounds. Six protesters have been killed and dozens
      injured in clashes with Israeli forces in barrier protests in Bilin and
      elsewhere.

      The Palestinians say they're engaging in civil disobedience, and
      Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad praised the Bilin method of
      persistent protests.

      "All we are looking for here is a way to exercise our right to life on
      our land," Fayyad told The Associated Press after addressing the crowd
      in the village square. "This is huge, this is great, as a matter of fact
      should be encouraged," said Fayyad, who did not take part in the march.

      Israel says the barrier is a defense against Palestinian militants.
      Palestinians say it's a land grab, since the barrier often juts far into
      the West Bank.

      In the case of Bilin, 575 acres (232 hectares), or more than half of
      Bilin's land, were taken by a barrier loop around the expanding Jewish
      settlement of Modiin Illit. The fence cut off Bilin villagers from their
      fields.

      In 2007, Israel's Supreme Court ordered the Defense Ministry to move the
      Bilin segment closer to Israel to reduce hardship to the Palestinians.

      Only last week did the military begin laying down tracks for a new
      route. Villagers said they were informed the new path would return 346
      acres (140 hectares) of farmland to Bilin and other villages.

      Bilin resident Hashem Bornat, 60, whose home overlooks the barrier, said
      he has lost nine acres to Modiin Illt. He said he felt both pride and
      sadness on the anniversary.

      He lost land, he said, but added: "I'm a little bit happy because we did
      something that will move the barrier."

      *****

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8523221.stm
      West Bank village marks five years of protest
      By Heather Sharp
      BBC News, Bilin, West Bank

      Despite the barrages of Israeli tear gas, sound grenades, foul-smelling
      spray and sometimes bullets - rubber coated and occasionally live - the
      protesters at the Palestinian village of Bilin keep going back for more.

      And as they mark five years since their first protest against the
      barrier Israel has built on their doorstep in the occupied West Bank,
      they seem as determined as ever.

      The villagers - together with Israeli and international activists - see
      their weekly Friday demonstrations as a leading example of Palestinian
      non-violent, grassroots protest.

      “ I feel really, very sad. To whom we can complain? The judge and the
      enemy is the same ”

      They march to the wall, chanting slogans and carrying flags, and have
      even tried dressing up as characters from the film Avatar, and kicking
      around a football to mock an Israeli mobile phone advert.

      But they say the protests are marred - it is hotly debated how often -
      as masked Palestinian teenagers use slingshots to hurl rocks at Israeli
      security forces.

      The barrier, here a tall wire fence, snakes over a rocky hillside
      covered in olive trees, cutting the villagers off from - according to
      their lawyer - about 2 sq km (200 hectares or 500 acres) of their land.

      Barrier moved

      Last week, Israel finally began implementing a court order dating back
      more than two years to reroute the barrier near Bilin.

      But the new route puts only a third of the land the villagers claim as
      their own on the Palestinian-controlled side.

      Some of the remainder had previously been designated Israeli state land
      and allocated for the expansion of a Jewish settlement.

      Mahmoud Samarra, 64, says he will get only a tiny fraction of his 93
      dunums (9 hectares or 23 acres) of land back.

      He points over the hill beyond the coils of barbed wire and the towering
      mesh of the fence.

      "It was like paradise," he says, describing how he planted olive trees
      with his children and watched them grow over 17 years.

      Bilin residents are allowed to access their land during the daytime,
      through a pedestrian gate in the fence. But Mr Samarra has been only once.

      The direct road for cars is long gone. Mr Samarra needs a stick to walk,
      and says he can barely cover the 1.5km to his land on foot.

      And anyway, he says, much of the land is surrounded by the Jewish
      settlement of Matityahu. He says that his trees were uprooted when it
      was built, and now he is too afraid of the settlers to visit.

      The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the fence's route could not be
      justified purely on security grounds.

      This settlement and the land around it was part of the controversy.

      "I feel really, very sad," says Mr Samarra. "To whom we can complain?"

      Despite the Supreme Court ruling, as he sees it, "the judge and the
      enemy is the same".

      'Sacrifice'

      Back in the village, Subhiyeh Abu Rahma, 55, uses her headscarf to wipe
      away the tears that start to flow as she talks about her son, Bassem,
      who died last year, aged 31, after he was hit in the chest by a tear gas
      canister during a protest.

      "I miss him every minute," she says, sipping coffee in a small, bare
      concrete house, adorned with posters of her dead son.

      He had brushed aside her suggestions that he renovate his house and look
      for a wife, focusing instead on the demonstrations, week after week.

      "One has to sacrifice everything for his homeland - even if it's a high
      price," she says.

      Bassem's brother Ahmad says he believed in peace and a two-state
      solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

      He even once suffered criticism among the villagers for choosing to wear
      a T-shirt showing the Israeli and Palestinian flags side by side, Ahmad
      adds.

      'Violent riot'

      Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said his death took place
      during "a violent riot". But there is no obvious stone-throwing taking
      place in video footage of the incident, which can be seen on YouTube.

      Palestinians say Bassem was hit by a high-velocity tear gas canister - a
      type which has been blamed for severe injuries at other protests.

      Ms Leibovich would neither confirm nor deny that they are used.

      She insists that these are not quiet protests "in which protesters come
      and sit on the ground".

      "Those rocks they're throwing can kill people," Ms Leibovich says.

      Damage costing hundreds of thousands of shekels has been done to the
      fence and 77 Israeli soldiers have been injured in the past two years,
      she adds.

      "They go to the fence and tear it down, then we have no choice but to
      show up and defend the fence. And then they start throwing rocks."

      Live ammunition is used only "rarely", in cases of "life and death for
      our forces", she said.

      But the Bilin organisers deny trying to damage the fence, although a few
      sympathetic blog posts mention the use of wire cutters.

      Suicide bombers

      They say they try to discourage young protesters from hurling stones,
      and this happens only infrequently as a reaction, when the soldiers fire
      tear gas and rubber bullets first.

      "We don't have planes or tanks or rifles, all we have is the rock. And
      they are afraid of the rock," says Mrs Abu Rahma.

      Israel says the barrier was established to stop Palestinian suicide
      bombers entering from the West Bank.

      But Palestinians point to its route, winding deep into the West Bank
      around Israeli settlements, and say it is a way to grab territory they
      want for their future state.

      In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued an
      advisory ruling that the barrier was illegal and should be removed where
      it did not follow the Green Line, the internationally recognised
      boundary between the West Bank and Israel.

      Ratib Abu Rahman, a protest organiser and university lecturer in social
      work, says the rerouting of the barrier is just a partial victory.

      "We hope it will be all our land. If the wall is destroyed, that will be
      a big achievement," he says.

      He says he has been injured about 10 times, and his brother, another
      organiser, is still in an Israeli prison. Some 1,200 protesters have
      been hurt, and 85 arrested, he says.

      "We pay a big price," he says, "but we are in the right, this is
      Palestinian land."

      *****

      --
      Dan Clore

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      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
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      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
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      Professor: Why, no one.
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