Perhaps finally learning the value of nonviolence from the villagers, the Israeli army did not disperse the weekly protest on Friday. Youth manage to pry open gate in the wall.
Some 300 people — Palestinians, Israelis and internationals — took part in a protest march Friday from the West Bank village of Bil’in to Israel’s separation barrier, built on the village’s land, to mark 12 years of continuous popular struggle against the wall, Israel’s settlements, and its military occupation of Palestine.
Unlike nearly every other Friday over the past 12 years, no soldiers came to break up the protest, an anomaly that allowed the demonstrators to march unimpeded through blooming almond trees and olive groves, all the way to the wall.
Several of the protesters climbed the wall and tore off pieces of the fencing from the top, while others pried open a heavy steel gate in the wall. On the other side of the wall is a neighborhood of the Modi’in Ilit settlement, which is built on Bil’in’s land.
Among the participants were Higher Arab Monitoring Committee chairman, former MK Mohammed Barakeh, and Palestinian Legislative Council member Mustafa Barghouti. Also present was a group of U.S. military veterans who came to stand in solidarity with the village and its struggle.
The Israeli army’s decision to simply not show up at the protest deserves special note. Soldiers have been sent to the weekly protest to forcefully suppress the residents’ struggle, both when it has been entirely nonviolent and when stones have been thrown. Even after the separation wall was built and after it was moved further from the village, the soldiers continued to show up each week and attack the protest, to cross the wall and chase the protesters all the way back into the village.
The presence of the soldiers and their violence toward the legitimate protests would lead to stone throwing, which in turn escalated into harsher violence on the part of the soldiers. Israeli soldiers have killed two — completely nonviolent — Bil’in residents over the years, seriously wounded others, and arrested hundreds.
In recent months, it seems, the army finally learned the strategic advantages of nonviolence from the residents and activists of Bil’in, and stopped coming to suppress the protests. Instead, the soldiers mostly watch the protest from afar, and sometimes — like today — just don’t show up, and allow the protest...Read More