Text by Haggai Matar
Photos by Yotam Ronen, Shiraz Grinbaum, Miki Kratsman / Activestills.org
Nearly 1,000 protesters — Palestinians, Israelis and internationals — marched to celebrate 10 years of popular struggle in the West Bank village Bil’in. Soldiers responded with tear gas, pepper spray and arrests. One Palestinian was badly wounded. Meanwhile, activists marked 21 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, and called to open Shuhada Street to Palestinians.
Approximately 1,000 protesters, most of them Palestinian, 100 Israelis and dozens of international activists took part in a large protest in Bil’in on Friday, marking ten years of popular struggle against the wall, the settlements and the occupation. Meanwhile, hundreds marched in Hebron to mark 21 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre, and demanded that the Israeli army open Shuhada Street to Palestinian traffic.
Over the last ten years, Bil’in has become an international symbol of popular, nonviolent resistance to the occupation, the settlements and the separation barrier. The village’s main road was decorated with photographs taken by Activestills, who have accompanied the struggle since day one. Decorations made of spent tear gas canisters were also hung. By 10 a.m., members of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee — who lead the struggle in Bil’in — were joined by committee members from other villages; Israeli activists; journalists; members of the Joint Arab List MK Dov Khenin and Aida Touma-Sliman; and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mustafa Barghouti.
The march to the separation wall began shortly after noon, using the same route the residents have taken week after week for the past decade. The original separation fence kept some 1,950 dunams (480 acres) of Bil’in’s land on the Israeli side, for the purpose of expanding the Modi’in Illit settlement. The High Court, however, ruled that the fence must be moved, and after four years of waiting, the Israeli government built a new wall that only swallows some 1,300 dunams (320 acres) of the village’s land.
Friday’s protest was lead by a group of Palestinian scouts, who carried Palestinian flags and drums. They were followed by the demonstrators, who sang songs and chanted against the wall, the settlements and the occupation. As opposed to previous weeks, when Israeli soldiers greeted the protesters and tried to put down the demonstration at the site of the old route of the fence, this time soldiers waited behind...Read More