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Bil'in Protest, Israeli Army

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Published on Jul 7, 2011

Since January 2005, the village has been organizing weekly protests against the construction of the West Bank Barrier. The protests have attracted media attention and the participation of many international organizations as well as left-wing groups such as Gush Shalom, Anarchists Against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement. The protests take the form of marches from the village to the site of the wall with the aim of halting construction and dismantling already constructed portions. Israeli forces always intervene to prevent protesters from approaching the wall, and violence usually erupts in which both protesters and soldiers have been very seriously injured.[15][16][17][18][19] The protestors arrive with gas masks and shout chants including "Israel is a fascist state!"[4] Palestinian boys have been seen flinging stones at the soldiers from a position not among but to the right of the protestors.[4] The weekly protests, which last a few minutes, regularly draw international activists such as Richard Bronson and President Jimmy Carter, who come to support the Palestinian movement.[4]
The regular clashes here came more sharply into the international spotlight when an American protester named Tristan Anderson was struck in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces. The impact caused massive damage to his frontal lobe, and to his eye. Even after several brain surgeries, the 38 year old Anderson is being kept in a medically induced coma in a Tel Aviv hospital.[20] In June 2005 an Israeli soldier lost an eye after being hit by a rock thrown by a demonstrator.[15]
Two Bil'in protests in the summer of 2005 are described in detail by Irish journalist David Lynch in his book, A Divided Paradise: An Irishman in the Holy Land.[21] In August 2006, a demonstration against the 2006 Lebanon War was dispersed by the Israel Border Police using tear gas and rubber coated bullets. An Israeli lawyer, Limor Goldstein, was severely injured after being shot twice.[22]
Conferences demonstrating solidarity with the protesters were held in the village in February 2006 and April 2007.[23]
Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work on the Northern Ireland dispute, was hit in the leg by a rubber-coated bullet and reportedly inhaled large quantities of teargas during a demonstration in April 2007.[24] In June 2008, European Parliament vice-president Luisa Morgantini and Julio Toscano, an Italian judge, were injured in Bil'in.[25] In April 2009, Bil'in resident Bassem Ibrahim Abu-Rahma was killed after being hit in the chest by a high-velocity tear gas canister.[26][27]
Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall, was arrested in December 2009 after organizing an exhibit of spent ammunition used against the protesters. He was charged with possession of Israeli arms, incitement and hurling stones at IDF soldiers.[28] Desmond Tutu urged Israel to release him.[29]
On March 15, 2010, Israeli soldiers entered Bil'in to post notices declaring a closed military zone consisting of the areas between the barrier and the town. The order enforces the closure on Fridays between 0800 and 2000 during which the protests occur. While the closure does not apply to Palestinian residents of Bil'in, Israeli citizens and internationals are forbidden from entering the zone

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