Tuesday, August 4, 2009
The Battle for Bil'in
A PALESTINIAN VILLAGE FACES AN "EXISTENTIAL THREAT" FROM THE ISRAELI STATE, COURTS, ARMY AND SETTLERS WHO DON'T RECOGNIZE THEIR "RIGHT TO EXIST (to coin a phrase)"
Below is an excerpt from an article giving background on the struggle. I was there with a Code Pink delegation in June of 2009 and got my first whiff of teargas since the 1960s -- Rick Congress
The Battle For Bil'in
By Eileen Fleming
24 February, 2009
[Bil'in, Feb. 23, 2009] For four years, the beleaguered agricultural village of Bil'in in the West Bank has resisted the route of Israel's Wall; which in Bil'in is composed of miles of electrified-barbed wire fencing that denies the landowners access to their legally owned land.
The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that The Fence must be moved and the stolen land restored to the Bil'in villagers; but civil and military authorities have not complied and last week, night time raids by Israel escalated.
Mahmoud Zwahre, a coordinator of the Popular Committee Against The Wall, wrote:
Imagine being awakened to the sound of a stun grenade. Imagine such a grenade landing in your front yard every night. This is the reality that residents of Palestinian villages who are struggling against the apartheid wall are forced to deal with since the attack on Gaza.
These nightly invasions by the army, which terrorize villagers, are becoming ever more frequent. Invasions take place three to four times a week in the villages of Beit Likia and Bil'in. In the last week, the villages of Ma'asara, Ni'ilin and Jayus too have joined the list, as troops have been harassing those who participate and organize the village protests.
Around 12:30 at night the solders [knocked on] the door of my house [demanding] I open the door; more than 10 solders entered my house without my permission…they pushed me out side in the cold weather with very light clothes…they told me that they are going to arrest me and they [bound] me …I'm on the ground on my knees at that time; I thought that I'm in Guatanomo…and then they told me…we are going to arrest you next week we are going to come in more difficult way; so don't come to demonstrate, don't organize demos…While they was checking in my house they found emails for many friends from solidarity associations.
Today or tomorrow we are going to win because we have the faith.-end Mahmoud
Even with the four years of media blackout on the popular struggle, thousands of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals have been waging a nonviolent campaign of resistance to the construction of the route of Israel's Wall in the Occupied Territories.
Palestinian farmers, mothers, children and activists have been braving teargas, beatings, bullets, arrest, and even death to rise up against the most well equipped army in the world, with nothing more than their own bodies and determination.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that The Wall is a violation of International Law because it cuts through the West Bank appropriating Palestinian land and destroying Palestinian villages and economy in order to establish more illegal settlements.
The route of The Electric Fence in Bil'in and the Israeli army prohibits the indigenous people to tend and harvest their olive groves. Over 2,003 dunums of prime agricultural land have been confiscated by The Electric Fence.
The Israelis built apartments for 750 settlers that the indigenous people are forbidden to enter.
In Billin, the Green Line is five miles from The Electric Fence and the Popular Committee in Bilin has been fighting the illegal actions of the Israeli government with demonstrations and legal actions.
The Israeli government attempts to justify their land theft by returning to the Ottoman Law that states if the landowner doesn't tend his land it can be confiscated by the State. The Israeli army and The Electric Fence have prevented the indigenous people from accessing their legally owned land, thus depriving them of food, income and human rights.
After the indigenous people of Bilin brought their case to the Israeli Municipal Court and the High Court; both courts agreed the building of the settlement dwellings was indeed illegal and ordered the construction to cease in January 2006. Construction continued and the settlers moved in and the High Court accepted these 'facts on the ground' but the indigenous people have not given up seeking justice.