Three MPTers went to Bil’in to participate in the June 20, 2008 demonstration. They and the other protestors carried signs and banners denouncing the use of live ammunition at these non-violent actions. They also raised posters with pictures of some of the villagers who have been wounded by the Israeli army during previous protests. The posters include the slogan, "Despite the hatred of your bullets we will uproot your wall."
The Israeli army’s initial response was to activate a loud, high-pitched shrieking sound known as “the scream” that pierces the air and hurts the ears. Following the scream, the soldiers showered the protesters with tear gas and flash bombs. A new tear gas launcher was used which fires thirty canisters in one barrage. Dozens of people were treated for tear gas inhalation.
Rubber-coated steel bullets were also fired at the peaceful protesters, resulting in a number of injuries. Heat from the Israeli weapons ignited many fires in the surrounding fields, forcing protesters already combating gas and rubber bullets to simultaneously work at putting out the fires. Several olive trees were lost to the fires.
When the army had stopped firing, the Palestinians invited internationals to sit with them for a while under an olive tree. After a time of chanting anti-occupation messages, everyone returned to the village when the local Palestinians, not the army, decided it was time to do so.
As in previous protests, the people of Bil’in sent the message that they will not be bullied by
Earlier in the day, a family, that had hosted MPTers during Bil’in’s international conference two weeks earlier, had invited the MPTers and three of their international friends to have lunch with them after the demonstration. The invitation to lunch was gladly accepted and proved to be a wonderful antidote to the distressing violence of the Israeli army during the demonstration. The family served, among other delicious dishes, the largest platter of chicken and rice their guests had ever seen.
After eating and drinking tea, the host suggested it was time for some Arabic music. The family’s oldest son brought a beautiful stringed instrument into the room and his father played lovely, soothing music. The father also talked about his own deep desire for peace for all peoples. It was a privilege and an honor to spend time with this warm and generous family.
MPTers cannot get over the amazing commitment and courage of the people of Bil’in. They continue their non-violent demonstrations week after week after week, even though some of them have been beaten and injured time after time.