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Bil’in Part II: The village that never sleeps

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Three MPTers stayed the night in Bil’in after the protest on Friday in order to conduct night watch in the village. Israeli soldiers who come to arrest residents without explaining why they are being arrested or where they are being detained have raided the village almost every night for the last month. In the last month 10 people have been arrested including one American activist who was nonviolently trying to stop the detainment of one young Palestinian man. Most of these arrests are young men under the age of 18. Usually a large number of soldiers (between 50-100) come into the village in the middle of the night attempting to surprise residents while they are sleeping. We were told by members of the International Solidarity Movement, who have had a presence in Bil’in for the past 3 weeks, that often the soldiers wear black or white masks to hide their identity. To see a video of these night raids from the International Solidarity Movement’s website please go here: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7532. Currently there is a list of 150 Bil’in residents to with arrest orders.

MPTers stayed awake with local Palestinians watching for Israeli soldiers who may be coming into Bil’in to arrest villagers. As a result of these night raids, Palestinian residents are awake all night every night and then go directly to work in the morning. When asked when they sleep, a local man told MPT that “sometimes we sleep a couple hours after work, but sometimes not at all”.

During night patrol, MPTers met two men who told them this story: The two men present along with another Bil’in resident had all been very good friends. One of them was shot point-blank in the head with a tear gas canister by the Israeli military during one of the Friday protests in April 2009. These canisters are made to be shot a distance of 500 meters, making close-range shots lethal. This young man suffered a severe head injury, which has left him with limited use of one arm. He also showed us pictures of his head after surgery, which had an incision from the front of his scalp to the back. One picture included Bassem Abu Rahme visiting him at the hospital a few days before he himself was shot by the same type of tear gas canister, which hit him in the chest killing him instantly. This also occurred during one of the Friday nonviolent demonstrations. The third friend told MPT that he lost one friend and almost lost the other. He was expecting to be targeted by the Israeli military next.

Soldiers did not enter Bil’in on the night of July 11th.

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