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Two Demonstrations

Two Demonstrations in the two villages of Bil’in and Ni’in west of Ramallah October 10, 2008

Map of the area north and west of Jerusalem and Ramallah

Thursday, October 9th, the MPTers rode on a small bus to Bil’in a town to the west of Ramallah. To their surprise and delight there were nine French people singing lively music from their Provence region of France. We all spent the night on mats in Bil’in and the next day went together to the two demonstrations.

On the map above, first locate the dotted green line [along the western border] , which is the official 1967 boundary of the West Bank of Palestine. Then locate the red line to note the annexations of land that have been made inside the green line since 1967. [Dark red splotches indicate illegal Israeli settlements.] [A larger map at http://www.ochaopt.org/ or www.passia.org/palestine_facts/MAPS/newpdf/WestBankWall.jpg can be used for a more detailed explanation of the total situation.] Jerusalem is in the middle bottom of the map. Ramallah is northeast of this. West of the town of Ramallah, locate a ring like piece marked with the dotted green line. Above it is a large bite into the land, with large red splotches. The villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin are in the area just outside the red line near these splotches.
Thursday evening a principal organizer of Bil’in, Abdulla, gave our group the background on Bil’in. Bil’in is a small village of 1,800 people who in 2004 lost more than half its land to illegal Israeli settlements. Under the guise of security, an illegal apartheid separation barrier/wall was built to separate the confiscated land. Since 2004, the village of Bil’in has persistently and non-violently protested this illegal wall and the confiscation. Each Friday, protesters from the village and Israeli and international peace activists are present at the creative demonstrations against the barrier/wall. The village has persevered in the protests because they continually meet on Friday. They are united despite varying political party affiliations. They have youthful leaders with creative responses, and they have the continual support of the media and of Israel and international peace activists. During the protests, tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound bombs are repeatedly used. If Internationals are not present, live ammunition can be used. More than 60 villagers have been detained or arrested, some for several months, and there have been over 1000 injures – some to the same villagers. The village has been invaded by Israeli soldiers who have imposed curfews and destroyed olive groves. In spite of all the violence used against them, Bil’in has been recognized internationally for their continued use of non-violent resistance. They consider it “Gandhi style” resistance.

Flags with symbols opposing the illegal apartheid wall lead the march to the wall
Protesters move back up the hill after being tear gassed, but tear gassing continued. One feels unable to breathe with tear gas, but eventually the feeling leaves.

Israeli army jeeps patrol one side of the illegal fence/barrier. Protesters have cut the illegal fence many times.

Youth knocked out by tear gas. It took a long time for them to revive.

This young man needed special attention to revive from the tear gas. While being taken to an ambulance, the army fired tear gas at the ambulance.

The village of Bil’in has a case before the Israeli High Court, which declared the land confiscation and the barrier/wall illegal in September 2007. To date, Israel has done nothing to abide by the order of their own court but has continued to expand building in the settlement. The Bil’in villagers have legal proceedings in Canada against two Canadian construction companies which are building the illegal Israeli settlements on the confiscated land.


After the Israeli War of 1948, the village of Ni’lin lost 60 percent of their land to Israel. After the 1967 War, they were left with about 1/6 of the original land. The confiscated land was used for illegal Israeli settlements and the apartheid barrier/wall. A new wall being built now for more confiscated land will leave the village with about 1/30 of the original and the village will be encircled by the wall with only one entrance, giving full military control in and out of the area.

In the past few months, the village of Ni’lin has been the site of protests similar to that of Bil’in, but with even more excessive use of force by Israeli military forces against Palestinians, Israeli and international human rights activists. Scores of people have been arrested. The Israeli military shot and killed a ten-year-old boy with live ammunition and another seventeen year old boy with a rubber bullet, both at close range. Neither boy was armed nor stone throwing, but trying to hide. [There is no investigation of these August deaths] Numerous olive trees have been bulldozed.

MPTers walk with the French protesters to join the large Israeli activist group trying to pick olives near the illegal apartheid wall.

Journalists in a demonstration are of utmost importance for the protection of the Palestinians and other protestors. Video cameras are very important.

Illegal Israeli settlements on confiscated land. Olive trees on the village side of the wall are off limits for picking. MPTer video taping to the left. The “mist” is tear gas receding.

Protesters moved away from the heavy tear gas, but several suffered from gas inhalation. An ambulance was called.

Two Israeli activists were handcuffed behind the jeep for trying to pick olives on village land near the illegal apartheid wall.

An Israeli activist who persistently is at demonstrations was handcuffed and detained. Those Israelis detained are tried under the separate Israeli legal system and may spend a short time in jail. One Israeli man suffered a wound on the arm but luckily did not have a broken bone. This man spoke to us of the U.S. and Israeli collusion in the occupation.

The villagers of Bil’in continue to support the villagers of Nil’in in their struggle for survival. The villages are places of hope because of their ongoing struggle for their land and livelihood. Despite fear for their very lives and that of their children, the people of these villages continue the expectation that someday the Israeli occupation with all the oppression will end.

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