After the memorial and noon prayer, the group of around three hundred Palestinian, Israeli and International peace activists gathered at the village center to march down to the Wall. The atmosphere was energetic with a loudspeaker playing music and the demonstrators chanting for the end of the Occupation.
There was an immediate attempt by the Israeli army to drive back the protesters with a barrage of tear gas that was briefly effective but recently released prisoner Abdullah Abu Raymah enthusiastically urged the people to continue to the goal of the fenced barricade between village land and the surrounding military road. As the majority of the crowd approached the fence, they were sprayed with skunk water. Again, Abdullah encouraged the demonstrators not to retreat, explaining particularly to the “first timer” internationals the skunk water could only reach as far.
The action quickly moved to the west side of the area with the protestors going through the fence to approach the assembled soldiers. Several Palestinians climbed atop army jeeps, waving Palestinian flags and according to the videos a demonstrator apparently managed to throw a tear gas canister back into one of the jeeps. Also as seen in the video footage on Bil’in website, there was much struggling, pushing and hitting as the soldiers attempted to force the unarmed group back inside the fence. Several people, including Mohammad Khatib, coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, were carried away from the fenced area with injuries. One international had a bloodied hand attended to by the medics. After the demonstration was called to a halt by members of the Bil’in Popular Committee, MPTers saw long time friend Iyad Burnat, limping. He explained he had been beaten by the soldiers. We celebrated the success of this week’s demonstration with a cup of tea with our friend.
To view more facts, pictures and videos of the demonstration, please visit Bil'in village's website.